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13 







<P 



Harvard College 
Library 




GIFT OF THE 

OVERSEERS' COMMITTEE 

TO VISIT THE 

DEPARTMENT OF ENGLISH 



^^^%^h^h(^h^^^i^^i^^^%^^ 




THE ENGLISH POETS 

T. H. WARD, 

VOL. W 
BROWNING TO RUPERT BROOKE 



THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 

NXW YORK • BOSTON • CHICAGO • DALLAS 
ATLANTA • SAN rSANCISCO 

MACMILLAN & CO., Limited 

LONDON • BOMBAY • CALCUTTA 
MELBOURNE 

THE MACMH^LAN CO. OF CANADA. Lid. 

TORONTO 



THE 

ENGLISH POETS 

SELECTIONS 

WITH CRITICAL INTRODUCTIONS 

BY VASIOUS WSEFBSS 

AND A GENERAL INTRODUCTION BY 
MATTHEW ARNOLD 

EDITBD BY 

THOMAS HUMPHRY WARD, M.A. 

LaU FeUaw of Brasenost CoUege, (hfford 



VOL. V 
BROWNING to RUPERT BROOKE 



Nfttt Vmrfc 

THE MACMHXAN COMPANY 

1920 

AU rights reserved 






HARVARD COLLEGE LIBRARY 

Gift of the 

OVERSEERS COMMITTEE 

to Visit the 

DEPARTMENT OF ENGLISH 



COPTRIQHT, 1918 

bt the macmillan company 

S«t up and electrotyped. Published December, 1918. 



\ 



PREFACE 

The Fifth Volume of The English Poets deals with those 
writers who have died during the period that has elapsed 
since Volume IV was published in its original form — a period 
of nearly forty years. It may be remembered that to that 
volume in 1894 we added an Appendix, containing Selections, 
from Browning, Matthew Arnold, and Tennyson. This Ap- 
pendix was afterwards incorporated in the volume; and now, 
for the better convenience of readers, it has been detached 
from Volume IV and placed at the beginning of Volume V. 

This volume differs from its predecessors in the fact that 
nearly all the poems included, having been so recently issued, 
are still "in copyright." To the owners of the right we had 
therefore to apply for permission before we could publish; 
and we now gratefully express our acknowledgment of the 
permission so given. The detailed list of those who have 
enabled us to publish, and to whom we tender our thanks, is 
as follows: 



Clarendon Press and Mrs 

Dixon 
Macmillan & Co. . 



in respect of R. W. Dixon. 



ti a 



Christina Rossetti. 
T. E. Brown. 
F. W. H. Myers. 
Coventry Patmore. 



George Bell & Sons 
Trustees of the Estate of 

the late George Meredith " " George Meredith. 
Longmans, Green & Co. . ** " William Morris. 



PREFACE 



William Heinemann . . 
Wm. Blackwood & Sons . 
Kegan Paul, Trench & Co. 
Mr. John Murray . 

Coulson Kemahan, Esq . 

Chatto & Windus, Long- 
mans, Green & Co., and 
Lloyd Osboume, Esq. 

Mrs. Henley. . 

Mrs. Lang .... 

Bowes and Bowes . . 



Lady Gilbert 
John Lane . 



Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons 
Bums and Dates . . 
T. Fisher Unwin . 
Elkin Matthews . . 

Sidgwick and Jackson 
Professor George Wrong 
G. P. Putnam's Sons . 
Duncan C. Scott, Esq. 



in respect of A. C. Swinburne. 
" " George Eliot, 
" Sir A. LyaU. 
" " Lord de Tabley. 
J. A. Syrnonds. 
" PhiUp Bourke Mar- 
ston. 



R. L. Stevenson. 
W. E. Henley. 
Andriew Lang. 
A. C. Hilton. . 
J. K. Stephen. 
W. S. Gilbert. 
Stephen Phillips. 
John Davidson. 
E. Dowson. 
Hon. Emily Lawless 
Francis Thompson. 
R. Middleton. 
Mary Coleridge. 
Lionel Johnson. 
Rupert Brooke. 
Harold V. Wrong. 
W. H. Dnmnmiond. 
Archibald Lamp- 
man. 






a 
a 
u 



CONTENTS 

PAGE 

Robert Browning (i8 12-1889) , Margaret L. Woods 1 

I How they brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix 9 

V Pippa's Song 11 

The Bishop orders his Tomb at Saint Praxed's Church 11 

/The Lost Leader 15 

David singing before Saul 16 

VHome Thoughts, from Abroad 18 

V Love among the Ruins ....... 18 

Incident of the French Camp 21 

Two in the Campagna 22 

\/Up at a Villa — Down in the City 24 

May and Death 27 

>^rospice 28 

^Rabbi Ben Ezra 29 

Confessions 35 

The Ring and the Book (Dedication) 37 

vThe Householder 38 

Epilogue to Asolando 39 

Matthew Arnold (1822-1888) .... The Editor 40 

To a Friend 46 

v/Shakespeare 46 

Requiescat 47 

v^HimianLife 47 

"The poet, to whose mighty heart" (from Resignation) 48 
"He spoke; and as he ceased, he wept aloud" (from Sohrab 

and Rustum) 50 

The Forsaken Merman 57 

Austerity of Poetry 61 

*^ To Marguerite 61 

The Strayed Reveller (from Empedodes on Etna) . . 62 

v^Callides' Song (from Empedodes on Etna) . .71 

v^Dover Beach » '73 



Vlli CONTENTS 



PAGE 

Palladium ......... 74 

v^ Morality 74 

Memorial Verses (April, 1850) 76 

»/ Rugby Chapel (November, 1857) 78 

Thyrsis 84 

Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-189 2) . . Sir R. C. J ebb 91 

Claribel loi 

A Dirge loi 

ThgJ^dy of Shalott 103 

Eleanore 108 

"Ofol^sat Freedom on the Heights" . . . .112 

"Love thou thy Land" 113 

"You as^me, why, tho' ill at ease . . . . .116 
Mortfi^'Arthur . . . . . 117 

Ul ysses . 121 

St. Agnes* Eve . . . . . . .123 

"Break, break, break" . . . . . .124 

^ Extracts from The Princess: . 

"The splendour falls on castle walls" . . .125 

"Tears, idle tears" . . . .125 

■^ Extracts from In Memoriam: 

"The Danube to the Severn gave" . . .126 

"Yet if some voice that man could trust" . . .126 
"Oh yet we trust that somehow good". . . . 127 
"Heart-afBuence in discursive talk" . . . .128 
"There rolls the deep where grew the tree" . . .129 
-*. Extract from Maud: 

"I have led her home, my love, my only friend" . 129 

The Brook 132 

Ode on the Death of the Duke of Wellington . . .133 

The Charge of the Light Brigade 141 

Northern Farmer, Old Style 143 

Tithonus . . 146 

^Milton 148 

The Sailor Boy . .148 

Arthur^s Farewell (from The Idylls of the King: Guinevere) . 149 

..--^The Revenge 151 

^To Virgil 155 

Hymn (from Akbar's Dream) . ... . -157 



CONTENTS. ix 



PAGE 

God and the Universe 157 

^..^Crossing the Bar 158 

RicHASD Henry Horne (1803-1884) John Drinkwaier 159 
* * One day, at noontide, when the chase was done " (from Orion) 161 
The Plough 163 

Cardinal Newman (1801-1890) . Josephine Ward 165 

Memory 168 

The Pillar of the Cloud 169 

Extracts from The Dream of Gerontius . . • . .169 

William Barnes (i8oi-i886). Thomas Hardy 174 

In the Spring 176 

Jenny out vrom Hwome . . . -177 

The Wife a-lost 178 

WoakHill 179 

The Widow's House . 180 

The Water Crowvoot 181 

Blackmwore Maidens . . .182 

The Morning Moon 183 

White and Blue 184 

The Wind at the Door 185 

Aubrey de Vere (1814-1902) The Editor 186 

Extracts from The Search after Proserpine: 

Fountain Nymphs 188 

Coleridge 190 

Extracts from May Carols: 

"Stronger and steadier every hour" . .191 

"A sweet exhaustion seems to hold" ..... 192 
"A sudden sun-burst in the woods" . . -193 

Extracts from Medueval Records and Sonnets: 

Browning ........ 193 

Tennyson . , ' 194 

Sir Francts Doyle (1810-1888) ... The Editor 195 
Extract from The Doncaster St. Leger . . .196 
The Private of the Buffs 199 



CONTENTS 



PAGE 

Lord Houghton (1809-1885) . - . Marquess of Crewe 201 

Mohammedanism ........ 205 

The Flight of Youth 207 

Moments 211 

Half-Truth 212 

Shadows 213 

Mrs. Denison 214 

The Brownie 215 

Alexander Smith (i 829-1 866) . John Drinkwater 216 

Extract from A Life Drama ...... 219 

Sonnet 219 

Extract from Edwin of Deira . . . ■ . .220 

Extract from Horton 220 

Extract from Squire Maurice .221 

Jean Ingelow (1820-1897) .... The Editor 223 

The High Tide on the Coast of Lincolnshire .224 

When Sparrows Build 228 

Coventry Patmore (1823-1896) . Edmwtd Gosse 230 

Eros 234 

Night and Sleep 234 

Extract from Tamerton Church-Tower . .236 

Extracts from The Angel in the House: 

The Poet's Confidence 237 

Love at Large . 237 

The Lover 238 

The Revelation 239 

The Amaranth 239 

Love's Perversity ....... 240 

Extract from Amelia ....... 241 

Extracts from The Unknown Eros: 

Winter 243 

The Azalea 244 

Departure 245 

The Toys 246 

To the Body 247 

Edward Fitzgerald (1809-1883) ... The Editor 249 

Extracts from the Rubalydt 253 



CONTENTS xi 



PAGE 

William Johnson (Cory) (1823-1892) . The Editor 257 
Extracts from lonica: 

Mimnermus in Church 259 

Amatunis ......... 259 

A Queen's Visit (1851) 261 

A Study of Boyhood 262 

Deteriora 264 

Parting 265 

To the Muse 266 

RicHAHD Watson Dkon (1833-1900) . H,C, Beeching 267 

Song 270 

The Fall of the Leaf 270 

Ode on Conflicting Claims 271 

Ode: The Spirit Wooed 272 

Ode on Advancing Age 274 

Thomas Gordon Hake (1809-1895) . . The Editor 276 

Extracts from New Symbols: 

The Snake-charmer 278 

The Painter 282 

Extracts from The New Day: 

Sonnet X 284 

Sonnet XXXII 285 

Christina Rossetti (1830-1894) Percy Luhhock 286 

Noble Sisters 290 

Dream Land 292 

Bride-song (from The Prince's Progress) .293 

Song: "When I am dead, my dearest" .295 

A Birthday 295 

At Home 296 

Up-hill 297 

Shut Out 297 

Echo 298 

A Christmas Carol .299 

Passing Away 300 

George Meredith (1828-1909) John Bailey 301 

. The Spirit o£ Shakespeare 3«9 



xii CONTENTS 



PAGE 

Winter Heavens 310 

Diige in Woods 310 

The Year's Sheddings 311 

Song in the Songless 311 

Youth in Age 311 

• France, December, 1870 . . . - 312 

The Earl of Lytton (1834-1891) The Editor 320 

Extracts from The Wanderer: 

The Portrait 521 

Spring and Winter 324 

Athens (from After Paradise) 326 

Andromeda 327 

William Morris (1834-1896) . J.W. Mackail 328 

Extracts from The Oxford and Cambridge Magazine: 

The Hollow Land 336 

Summer Dawn 336 

Extracts from The Defence of Guenevere: 

Laimcelot and Guenevere (from King Arthur's Tomb) . 336 

Ladies' Gard (from Golden Wings) .... 338 

Extracts from The Life and Death of Jason: 

A Sweet Song sung not yet to any Man . . 339 

Orpheus sings to the Argonauts 340 

The Song of the Hesperides ..... 342 

Medea at Corinth 343 

Extracts from The Earthly Paradise: 

Apology 346 

Michael's Ride (from The Man bom to be King) . . 347 

The Castle on the Island (from The Lady of the Land) . 348 

The Hosting of the Fiends (from The Ring given to Venus) 350 

February . 351 

The Book speaks to Chaucer . . • 352 

Extracts from Love is Enough: 

The Land of the Dream 354 

The Music . . 354 

The Return Home .355 

Extracts from Sigurd the Volsung: . 

Sigurd on Hindfell 356 

The Wsdom of Brynhild 358 

Gunnar's Death Song . . , « • . 359 



CONTENTS xiii 



^c 



PAGE 

Extracts from Poems by the Way: 

Mother and Son 361 

Young Love 363 

The Day is coming 364 

Thunder in the Garden 366 

The Flowering Orchard 367 

Algernon Chasies Swinburne (183 7-1 909) . Edmund Gosse 368 
Extracts from Atalanta in Calydon: 
V Chorus: ''When the hounds of spring are on winter's 

traces" . . ^ 375 

y, Chorus: "Before the beginning of years" . 377 

■J^Itylus 378 

A Match 380 

From The Triumph of Time 381 

Rococo . . .383 

In Memory of Walter Savage Landor .... 386 

>/The Garden of Prosperine 387 

Love at Sea ........ 390 

Hendecasyllabics 391 

Extracts from Songs before Sunrise: 

From Hertha . 392 

The Oblation 396 

From Mater Triumphalis 396 

Cor Cordium 398 

From the Epilogue to Songs before Sunrise . . . 398 
Extract from Erechtheus: 

Chthonia to Athens 400 

Extract from Poems and Ballads, Second Series: 

\J A Forsaken Garden 400 

Extracts from Poems and BaUads, Third Series: 

From Pan and Thalassius 403 

A Reiver's Neck- Verse ...... 404 

Extracts from Tristram of Lyonesse: 

Prelude: Tristram and Iseult 405 

\^ A Child's Laughter 406 

Thomas Edward Brown (i830-;897) . George A, Macmillan 408 

Braddan VicaragQ 411 

Scarlett Rocks 4x2 

Clifton . . 413 



XIV CONTENTS 



PAGES 

The Intercepted Salute 413 

Bach's Fugues (from Tommy Big-Eyes) .... 414 
Extracts from Clevedon Verses: 

Norton Wood (Dora's Birthday) 415 

IIoti^/Aar&ov: For J. P 416 

Boccaccio 417 

"O God, to Thee I yield" 418 

My Garden 418 

Specula 418 

Lord de Tabley (1835-1895) ' . . John Drinkwater 420 

Sonnet: *' Rosy delight that changest day by day" . 423 

Sonnet: "My heart is vext with this fantastic fear" 424 

Autumn Love . . . . 424 

The Study of a Spider 426 

A Leave-taking 427 

Misrepresentation 428 

George Eliot (i 819-1880) .... The Editor 429 

Extracts from The Legend of Jubal: 

The Thought of Death 430 

The Effect of Music 431 

"O may I join the choir invisible" .... 434 

Sm Alfred Lyall (1835-1911) . . . The Editor 436 

Theology in Extremis 437 

Meditations of a Hindu Prince 440 

John Addington Symonds (i 840-1 893) . . John Drinkwater 443 

The Shepherd to the Evening Star 445 

Le Jeune Homme caressant sa Chim^re .... 446 

In the Inn at Berchtesgaden 448 

Koiva ra roiv ^aX(i>v 449 

Harvest 449 

Extracts from Stella Maris: 

Sonnet: "Rebuke me not! I have nor wish nor skill" 450 

Sonnet: "Silvery mosquito-curtains draped the bed" . 450 

Je suis trop jeime . 451 

Adam Lindsay Gordon (1833-1870) The Editor 452 

The Sick Stockrider * 453 



CONTENTS XV 



PAGE 

How we Beat the Favourite 4S6 

Whisperings in Wattle-boughs 459 

Fkedemc William Henry Myers (1843-1901) John Drinkwaier 461 

From "Saint Paul" 462 

Simmenthal 463 

Arethusa • 464 

Hesione . 4^5 

Gabrielle 467 

Philip Boitrke Marston (1850-1887) . John Drinkwaier^ 468 

Inseparable 47° 

Persistent Music 47i 

The First Kiss 472 

Bridal Eve 472 

The Old Churchyard of Bonchurch 473 

From Far 474 

Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) . . Sidney Calvin 476 

-•Windy Nights 480 

Singing 481 

The Lamplighter 481 

North-west Passage: i. Good Night .... 482 

2. Shadow March .... 482 

3. In Port 483 

A Visit from the Sea 483 

^ The House Beautiful 484 

ToK. deM. . 485 

In Memoriam F. A. S 485 

ToF.J. S 486 

— "Say not of me" 486 

-^Requiem ......... 487 

A Mile an* a Bittock . 487 

The Coimterblast Ironical 488 

Christmas at Sea 489 

"I will make you brooches" 49^ 

"Bright is the ring of words" .... 491 

• My Wife 49i 

"*• If this were Faith 492 

(To the Tune of Wandering Willie) 493 

To S. C. .493 



XVI CONTENTS 

PAGB 

"The Tropics vanish" 495 

Tropic Rain . 495 

To S. R. Crockett . 496 

Evensong . 497 

William Ernest Henley (1849-1903) . . Charles Whibley 498 
From In Hospital: 

Staff-nurse: Old Style . . . . . • . 501 

Staff-nurse: New Style 501 

Lady-probationer 502 

"The Chief" 502 

Apparition 503 

Discharged 503 

v/"* I. M. R. T. Hamilton Bruce 504 

v/ToW. A 50s 

V ToA. C 505 

V Pro Rege Nostro 507 

Andrew Lang (1844-1912) .... The Editor 509 

The Odyssey 510 

Herodotus in Egypt 510 

Colinette . 511 

Pen and Ink . . 512 

The White Pacha .513 

Advance, Australia I . . .• . . . .514 

Ballade of the Book-hunter 514 

The Old Love and the New 515 

The Last Chance 516 

Humorous Verse C. L. Graves 517 

William Makepeace Thackeray (1811-1864) " " 519 

From Vanitas Vanitatum 519 

The Age of Wisdom (from Rebecca and Rowena) 520 

Sorrows of Werther 521 

Frederick Locker (1821-1895) . . . C. L. Graves 522 
My Mistress's Boots . . . . . .523 

The Rose and the Ring 525 

A Reminiscence of Infancy 526 



CONTENTS xvii 



PAGE 

Charles Stuaxt Calverley (i 831-1884) C. L. Graves 526 

Gemini and Virgo . 528 

Wanderers 532 

James Kenneth Stei>hen (1859-1892) C. L. Graves 534 

A Parodist's Apology 534 

Parker's Piece, May 19, 189 1 535 

Arthur Clement Hilton (1851-1877) C. L. Graves 536 

Ck:topus 537 

William Schwenck Gilbert (1836-1911) C. L. Graves 538 

Ellen M'Jones Aberdeen (from the Bab Ballads) . 540 
The Judge's Song (from Trial by Jury) . . .543 

The Policeman's Lot (from The Pirates of Penzance) 544 

Stephen Phillips (1864-1915) . . Sidney Colvin 545 

Maipessa. 548 

^^A Poet's Prayer 549 

The Fireman ......... 551 

Penelope to Ulysses 552 

Beatrice Cend 553 

The Parting of Laimcelot and Guinevere .... 555 

A Gleam! 556 

The Revealed Madonna 557 

Hon. Emily Lawless (1845-1913) . Mary A. Ward 558 

After Aughrim ........ 560 

Dirge of the Mimster Forest, 1581 561 

Fontenoy, 1745 

I. Before the Battle; night 562 

n. After the Battle; early dawn, Clare coast . 563 

FRA^as Thompson (1859-1907) . The Editor 564 

v/The Hound of Heaven 565 

From Sist^ Songs 570 

The End of it (from New Poems) 572 

John Davidson (1857-1909) .... Aldous Huxley 573 

\/ Piper, Play! 575 

A Ballad of Heaven 57^ 



XVI 



CONTEN 



"The Tropics vanish" 

Tropic Rain .... 

To S. R. Crockett 

Evensong .... 

William Ernest Henley (i 849-1903) 
From In Hospital: 

Staff-nurse: Old Style 

Staff-nurse: New Style 

Lady-probationer 

"The Chief" 

Apparition 

Discharged 
* I. M. R. T. Hamilton Bruce 
ToW.A. 
ToA. C. 
Pro Rege Nostro 



V 



;^*«^ 



Andrew Lang (1844-19^2) 
The Odyssey . 
Herodotus in Egypt . 
Colinette 
Pen and Ink 
The White Pacha 
A ( J \ :i nt'i\ A 1 1 s t r ;.\\v.\ V 
Bullade of tht- l-lcKiik^bu 
The Old Love iviid lUe 
Thv Last Chivi^cze 

Will I A 
Fi 
Th 



=S3 

588 
588 

593 



^fiifear 594 

. 594 
. 596 
. 596 
. 599 
. '599 

600 
*. 600 
. 600 

. 603 

. 604 

. 605 

. 605 

606 

rxliy 607 
. 609 
, 609 
610 
611 



Free 



613 

616 

16 



CONTENTS 








XIX 


PAGE 


'Mvcicomc . . . . . . . . .617 


-> lousy 












618 


Moment 












618 


' )i^oau Bleu . 












618 


..idow 












619 


^hield 












61Q 


\^)ther to her Baby 












619 


1 s Friends 












620 


. is — with a Difference 










620 


1 iicr I live, or whether J die" . 








621 



',oT Johnson (1867-1902) . Laurence Binyon 622 

^tatiie of King Charles at Charing Cross 624 

lire h of a Dream ....... 625 

: 626 

i'altT ......... 626 



t: (1887-1915) 



■•^1 Tea 



-ted by some of the Proceedings of the Society 
■ al Research) ...... 



Sir Henry NewboU 628 
. 631 
. 632 
• 634 
. 636 
638 

640 
641 
641 
642 
643 



'. Editors 



64s 



•! THE Names of the Authors treated. 651 



xviii CONTENTS, 



PAGE 

Canadian Poetry Pdham Edgar 580 

Isabella Valancy Crawford (1850-1887) " " 582 

La Blanchisseuse 583 

Said the Daisy 585 

The Rose . 587 

OLove 588 

William Henry Drummond (i 854-1907) . Pelham Edgar 588 

The Wreck of the "Julie Plante" 589 

Johnnie's First Moose . . . . . .591 

Dreams 593 

Archibald Lampman (1861-1899) . . Pelham Edgar 594 

Heat 594 

Outlook 596 

The Woodcutter's Hut 596 

Temagami 599 

Wayagamack '599 

Harold Verschoyle Wrong (1891-1916) .... 600 

Death 600 

The Great Adventure 600 

Ernest Dowson (1867-1900) Aldous Huxley 601 

Nuns of the Perpetual Adoration ..... 603 

"Non sum qualis eram bonae sub regno Cynarae" 604 

Vain Hope 605 

Villanelle of Marguerites 605 

'n/'a Last Word 606 

Richard Middleton (i 889-191 i) . . . Aldous Huxley 607 

The Carol of the Poor Children 609 

Any Lover, any Lass . . 609 

y^ Autumnal 610 

Pagan Epitaph 611 

Mary Elizabeth Coleridge (1861-1907) Laurence Binyon 613 

Sonnet: "True to myself am I, and false to all," . . 616 

Our Lady 616 



CONTENTS xix 



PAGE 

Unwelcome . . . 617 

Jealousy 618 

A Moment 618 

L'OiseauBleu 618 

Shadow . . . . . . . . • . 619 

The Shield 619 

A Mother to her Baby 619 

Christ's Friends . . . 620 

Friends — with a Difference 620 

"Whether I live, or whether J die" .621 

Lionel Pigot Johnson (i 867-1902) Laurence Binyon 622 
By the Statue of King Charies at Charing Cross .624 

The Church of a Dream 625 

The End 626 

Walter Pater 626 

Rupert Bbooke (1887-1915) . Sir Henry Newholt 628 

Dust ' . .631 

The Fish . . . 632 

Dining-room Tea . . . ' 634 

Tiare Tahiti 636 

>/The Great Lover 638 

Sonnet (suggested by some of the Proceedings of the Society 

for Psychical Research) ...... 640 

Waikiki 641 

Beauty and Beauty 641 

yTheDead 642 

^/The Soldier ......... 643 

Index I. Authors and Editors 645 

Index II. Editors, with the Names of the Authors trsated . 651 



ROBERT BROWNING 

[Robert Browning was bom in 1812. His father was an official in 
the Bank of England, his mother of Scottish and German origin. In 1833 
he published Pauline; in 1835 Paracelsus. In 1837 his tragedy of Strafford 
was produced by Macready, and in 1841, A Blot in the * Scutcheon. 
SordeUo appeared in 1840. From 1841 to 1846 he produced a series of 
poems imder the name of Bells and Pomegranates: it comprised most of 
his plays and some of his finest Dramatic Romances and Lyrics, but it had 
not a large sale. In 1846 he married Elizabeth Barrett, the poetess, and 
they lived in Italy till her death in 186 1 . During these years he published 
Christmas Eve and Easter Day, In a Balcony j and Men and Women. He 
returned to England in 1861 and lived chiefly in London. In 1864 he pub- 
lished Dramatis Persona; in 1868-9 The Ring and the Book. During the 
last twenty years of his life his literary activity was great. He published 
Balaustion^s Adventure, Prince Hohenstiel-Schwangau, Fifine at the Fair, 
Aristophanes^ Apology, The Agamemnon of ^schylus, The Inn Album, 
Pacchiarotto, La Saisiaz, The Two Poets of Croisic, Dramatic Idyls, 
Jocoseria, Ferishtah's Fancies, Parley ings with certain People of Importance 
in their Day. He died at Venice on Dec. 12, 1889, and almost on the 
same day was published his latest volume of poems, Asolando. He was 
buried in Westminster Abbey.] 

Seventy years ago the critics and the public alike were bowing 
Tom Moore into the House of Fame and letting down the latch 
upon Shelley and Keats outside. This and other shocking exam- 
ples of the vanity of contemporary criticism might impose eternal 
silence on the critic, did they not also make it plain that his mis- 
takes are of no earthly consequence. For such door-keepers 
are but mortals, and the immortals have plenty of time; they keep 
on knocking. The door was obdurately shut against Browning for 
many years, but when it opened, it opened wide; and he is surely 
not of those whom another age shows out by the back way. But 
his exact position in England *s House of Fame that other age must 
determine. Mere versatility does not there count for much; since 
in the scales of time one thing right well done is sure to outweigh 
many pretty well done. But that variousness of genius which 



THE ENGLISH POETS 



springs from a wide-sweeping invagination and sympathies that 
range with it counts for very much. In his comprehension of the 
varied aspects of human nature, in his power of dramatically 
presenting them, Browning stands alone among the poets of a 
great poetic age. Will these things loom larger in the distance, or 
when Prince Posterity comes to be King, will his royal eye be 
caught first by uncouth forms, by obscurities and weary prolixities? 
We cannot tell whether our poet will be freshly crowned or coldly 
honoured, for he beyond all others is the intellectual representative 
of his own generation, and his voice is still confused and it may be 
magnified by its echoes in the minds of his hearers. 

His own generation indeed meant more than one. He repre- 
sented in some respects the generation into which he was born, but 
yet more a later one which he antedated. This being so, he could 
not expect an eager welcome from his earlier contemporaries. 
Phantoms of the past are recognisable, and respectable, but phan- 
toms of the future are rarely popular. Yet it was fortunate that he 
stood just where he did in time, rather than nearer to those who 
were coming to meet him and call him Master. For he was born 
while the divine breath of Poetry, that comes we know not whence 
and goes we know not whither, was streaming over England. He 
grew up through years when she stood elate, with victory behind 
her, and looking forward with all manner of sanguine beliefs in the 
future. So he brought into a later age not only the fuller poetic in- 
spiration, the sincere Romance of the earlier, but its sanguine 
confident temperament. This temperament alone would not have 
recommended him to a generation which had been promised 
Canaan and landed in a quagmire, had it not been combined with 
others which made him one of themselves. But this being so, his 
cheerful courage, his belief in God and the ultimate triumph of 
good were as a tower of strength to his weaker brethren. It was 
not only as a poet, but as a prophet or philosopher, that he won his 
disciples. He himself once said that "the right order of things" is 
"Philosophy first, and Poetry, which is its highest outcome, after- 
wards." Yet this union of Philosophy and Poetry is dangerous, 
especially if Philosophy be allowed to take precedence. For 
Philosophy is commonly more perishable than Poetry, or at any 
rate it is apt sooner to require resetting to rid it of an antiquated 
air. Whatever is worth having in the philosophy of a Rousseau 
soon passes into the common stock. Emile is dead, but Rousseau 
lives by his pictures of beautiful Nature and singular human nature. 



ROBERT BROWNING 



Browning's philosophy is mainly religious. It has been said of 
him with truth: "His processes of thought are often scientific in 
their precision of analysis; the sudden conclusion which he imposes 
upon them is transcendental and inept." This was not so much 
due to a defect in his own mind as to the circumstances of the world 
of thought about him. An interest in theological questions had 
been quickened and spread by more than one religious revival, and 
then scientific and historical criticism began to make its voice 
heard. Intelligent religious people could not close their ears to it, 
but they were as yet unprepared either to accept or to effectually 
combat its conclusions. Hence there arose in very many minds a 
confusion between two opposing strains of thought, similar to that 
which has been remarked in Browning's poetry, and something like 
a reUgious system in which what was called Doubt and Faith 
had each its allotted part. Here was plainly a transition state of 
thought, and it is one from which men's minds have already moved 
away in opposite directions; but it has left deep traces on the 
literature of the middle Victorian period. Browning's philosophy 
does not fundamentally differ from that of other poets and writers 
of the time. It was by his superior powers of analysis, by the 
swiftness and ingenuity of his mind, that he was in advance of 
them and retained his influence over a generation that had ceased 
to look to them for guidance. Besides, his philosophy does not all 
bear the stamp of the temporary. He has some less transient 
reUgious thoughts, and many varied and fertile views of human 
life, breathing energy, courage, benignant wisdom: and those who 
like can make a system of them. 

But it is not by Philosophy, it is by Imagination and Form that 
a poet lives. In a century that has been wonderfully enriched 
with song, a time when we have all grown epicures in our taste for 
exquisite verse, too much has been said about Browning's want of 
form. It would be an absurdity to call a man a poet who had no 
sense of poetic form, who could not sing. Browning was a poet 
but not always a singer; song was not to him the inevitable lan- 
guage, the supreme instinct. When he strains his metre by at- 
tempting to •pack more meaning into a line than it will bear with 
grace, when he juggles with far-fetched and hideous rhymes, he 
really ceases to be a poet and puts his laurels in jeopardy. But 
oftener his form, more especially his blank verse form, is justified 
by the fact that he is essentially a dramatic poet; his verse must fit 
the character and the mood in which he speaks. The Elizabethans, 



THE ENGLISH POETS 



who were no f vimblers in the matter of metre, had their reasons for 
choosing a form for dramatic verse which should be not severe, but 
loose and flexible; a form which might alternately approach the 
classical iambus, a lyric measure and plain prose, yet remain more 
forcible than prose by the retention of a certain beat. It resembles 
not a mask and cothum, but a fine and flowing garment, following 
the movements of the actor's limbs. Great is the liberty of English 
unrhymed verse, and nobly it has been used; it has given us the 
most various treasures, from the ordered magnificence of Paradise 
Lost to the Ijnic cry of Romeo at Juliet's grave. Browning has 
often misused his liberty, but by no means so often as his hasty 
critics suppose. Try to think of Caliban upon SekboSy and even 
Dominus Hyacinthus, in prose, and you see at once by the loss 
involved that they are really poems; that is, that the verse form, 
and their own special form, is an essential part of their excellence. 
His unrhymed verse is seldom or never rich and stately, it is some- 
times harsh and huddled; but it is constantly vigorous and appro- 
priate, it can flow with a clear idyllic grace, as in Clean ond Andrea 
del SartOy or spring up in simple lyric beauty, as in One Word more 
and the dedication to The Ring and the Book, He had that great 
gift of singing straight from the heart which some great poets have 
lacked. Such songs have always an incommunicable charm, 
a piercing sweetness of their own. A strong emotion, whether 
personal or dramatic, has a magical effect in smoothing what is 
rugged and clearing what is turbid in Browning's style. For the 
rest, he wrote Pippa Passes^ the gallant marching Cavalier Songs, 
the galloping ballad of How they brought the Good News, the serene 
harmonies of Love among the Ruins. These, and many other 
outbursts of beautiful song, make it doubly ridiculous to speak of 
him as a poet who could not sing. Yet is it true that he frequently 
sacrificed sound to sense. This the plain person thinks right, but 
the poet knows or should know it to be wrong. And it did not 
even save him from obscurity. Such are his deficiencies — ^the more 
noticeable because the whole tendency of the century has been and 
is toward the perfecting of Ijnric and narrative forms of verse. In 
dramatic poetry this age of poets has been strangely' poor. Let 
Shelley's lurid drama of The Cenci be set aside in the high place 
that it deserves: after that the first seventy years of this century 
produced nothing of importance as dramatic poetry except Brown- 
ing's work. For what makes work dramatic? Not special fitness 
for the stage, but the author's impersonality and power of char- 



ROBERT BROWNING 



acterisation; the clash of human passions and interests on each 
other, the event or even the accident, that as in a lightning- 
flash reveals the dim hearts of men. In his dramatic power Brown- 
ing stands alone among the poets of the nineteenth century. 

In another aspect he stands alone. While they have remained 
curiously untouched by the most important literary movement of 
the last fifty years, he has been in it, *and even, for a time, in ad- 
vance of it. In his measure as a poet he is a realist . His aim, like 
that of contemporary writers of prose fiction, is to see and represent 
human life and character as it is. The history of literature during 
the entire century has been a history of revolts. Daumier repre- 
sents the eloquent M. Prudhomme telling his son, with a noble 
sweep of the arm, how on the place where they now stand once 
stood a tyrannous barrier, but he, M. Prudhomme, and his friends 
right bravely knocked it down. "Yes, dear Papa," returns the 
child, looking a few yards ahead, "And then I see you built it up 
again a little further on." The barrier of the conventional has been 
constantly moved on, here quickly, there slowly; but in English 
poetry, since the great move that separated the eighteenth from 
the nineteenth century, it has been stationary. Browning climbed 
over it. He climbed over other barriers too, which have since been 
moved on. He was not afraid of passion when mild sentiment 
was the literary thing. Some one when he died made a sonnet 
commemorating him as the Poet of Love. For a moment it 
seemed strange that the philosopher, the psychologist, the man 
the ruggedness of whose genius had challenged so much criticism, 
should be lamented as the Poet of Love. Yet such he emphatically 
was. He was so not only becauseTle had that power of singing 
straight from the heart to which I have before referred, but be- 
cause he was fearlessly truthful in his presentation of human 
nature, and also because he was drawn by his dramatic bent to the 
strong situations which cannot be evolved out of mild sentiments. 
In the fearlessness as well as the subtlety of his psychology, he is 
from the first with Balzac rather than with his contemporaries in 
England, where the barriers were many and moved reluctantly. 
The play of light and shadow in the world, of good and evil in com- 
plex characters, has an endless attraction for him. The clear sweet 
song of his Pippa runs sparkling through dark scenes of crime and 
treachery; Chiappino is at the height of heroism when the Nuncio 
comes to him, and like a wise benevolent kind of devil, shows him 
the stupidity of heroism and all that sort of thing, and hpw much 



THE ENGLISH POETS 



better he can serve the world by serving his own interests first. 
Twice, in Paracelsus and in The Return of the Druses, he has taken 
impostors for his heroes, and shown them to have been so largely 
because they were men of finer mould than the most honest of their 
dupes. From first to last he feels a passionate interest in "the 
stgay of a soul." Now the simple soul, like the knife-grinder, has 

(goS no story. The simple heart, however, may have story enough, 
afia it is the Pippa of all his work. It is, above all, truth of which 
he is in search, whether he paints the sixteenth-century bishop 
ordering his tomb, or the nineteenth-century bishop chatting over 
his wine. His aim is to keep poetry in touch not merely with the 
life of the imagination, but with life in general. It is of course 

* where it touches this modern life of ours that the real poetic crux 
occurs. There will always be the stuff of poetry in the world, so 
long as there are hearts and souls in it, and so long as the earth 
moves on through starry space, clothed in her beautiful vesture of 
air. But either the surface of our life has really grown prosaic, or 
we think it has, which comes to the same thing. It requires tact 
as well as boldness and power to harmonise it with the imaginative 
atmosphere that we expect in poetry. Browning sometimes failed 
in tact; at other times, as in Waring and the brief poem called 
Confessions J his touch was sure. But this realism of his, at its 
best as well as its worst, inevitably repelled readers who were only 
just beginning to relish realism in prose. Besides, he had a language 
of his own, with a strange new flavour about it, which made him 
seem much more obscure than he really was. So here a little 
ahead of his contemporaries and there a great way, most of Robert 
Browning's road was something solitary. The pleasanter for 
him when one fine day he found a troop of followers marching 
behind him; young folk, full of sympathy and enthusiasm. 

He had other things in common with them, besides realistic and 
psychological tendencies. His poems from SordeUo onwards bear 
witness to his love and knowledge of Italian Art. This he had 
gained for himself as he travelled through Italy, looking round him 
with a painter's eye. But Ruskin taught a younger generation 
to share it with him. Then, though from first to last a sturdy 
lover of England, he was something of a cos mopo Utan in his 
sympathies; and cosmopolitanism is strongly characteristic of the 
literature of to-day, and even mildly characteristic of the literary 
man. It used not to be so. The novelists of Browning's date can 
never quite repress their chuckles at the idea of any one being 



ROBERT BROWNING 



ridiculous enough to be bom a Frenchman or a German. The 
other poets travelled and even made their homes in Italy, but they 
were interested only in its scenery and romance. Browning not 
only travelled much, but formed intimate friendships outside his 
own country, and when he and his wife lived in Florence it was not 
as strangers and sojourners. Their poems reflect their sympathy 
with the national life about them. For this freedom from provin- 
cialism, as well as for some other kindred qualities, he doubtless 
owed much thanks to his education, which was jemarkable for its 
appropriateness to his genius. He was not machine made. 

In yet another and a more important characteristic he was in 
harmony with the most modem developments. His dramatic bent 
was unseasonable in the middle years of this century. English 
literature had tumed its back on the theatre, in spite of Macreadys 
and Kembles. Not only so, but its tendencies were non-dramatic. 
Scenes may of course be found in the works of the great novelists 
of the period which stand in contradiction to this. But all the 
same the tendency was towards a gentle development of plot 
and character, an absence of central situations, of crucial moments 
in the affairs and minds of men: that is, towards the non-dramatic. 
Browning instinctively tumed towards the sUgg. He did not 
succeed there, yet one cannot but think that had circumstances 
encouraged the clever young man to go on writing stage-plays, 
he would eventually have leamed the business. There is nothing 
to regret in the fact that he did not. His genius found for itself the 
most full and fitting expression. Through the plays, the Dramatic 
Romances and Lyrics, it swept on to that Dramatic Epic of The 
Ring and the Bookj which perhaps most perfectly embodied it. The 
plan of The •Ring and the Book grew so naturally out of the docu- 
ments on which it was founded and his own habitual manner of 
writing, that probably he himself was hardly conscious of its 
originality — of its excellence as a device for breaking the monotony 
of a long poem. The brilliant Introduction tells the facts of the 
story with a lucidity to which he did not always attain. By thus 
on the threshold revealing his whole plot, he at once asserts and 
vindicates his old belief in the interest of the story of souls; for no 
one would wish it otherwise. Then at the touch of the magician's 
wand arise out of their dust the "hearts that beat hard," the 
brains that "ticked two centuries since." All Rome is there, 
Arezzo too, yet the plan of the poem permits the principal figures 
to stand out clear against that crowded background. They re-act 



8 THE ENGLISH POETS 

dramatically upon each other, yet they are more complete than 
they could be in a play, where much must be left to conjecture. 
Long as it is, it is seldom long-winded. When it is, the remedy is 
plainly in the reader's own hands; another virtue of the plan. 
General practice has long suppressed Doctor Bottinius, and many 
persons think they can do without Tertium Quid; but this is not 
universal. At any rate it is possible without these to realise the 
rest; the pathetic figure of Pompilia, the wise great Pope, the 
philoprogenitive Pominus Hyacinthus, and Guido couched in his 
dungeon like a wolf at bay. 

This great poem, which touches the high-water mark of Brown- 
ing's genius, received at once its meed of praise. He had been 
ignored, he had been ridiculed, and now a reaction set in. The 
little band of Browning enthusiasts rapidly increased to a multi- 
tude, till at length he became a fashion. His very faults were 
glorified, and too much attention bestowed on such tentative and 
immature work as Sorddlo. There were many people to whom an 
obscure passage in Browning gave the amusement of an acrostic, 
plus the pleasures of intellectuality. Thus his obscurity was as 
much exaggerated by his admirers as by his opponents. Some- 
times that obscurity may be justified by his own belief — ^a belief on 
which he did not always act — that poetry should suggest trains of 
thought rather than carry them out. At others it results from a 
real failure to crystallise a thought, or again from a kind of over- 
whelming of his powers of expression by the hurrying crowd of his 
ideas. But modern life is crowded and hurrying too. Already what 
may be called the acrostic interest in Browning is on the wane. 
As a fashion it needs must go. But besides the literary modists, 
there are in every generation the lovers of literature. To these 
we may leave in all confidence the works of Robert Browning, sure 
that they cannot miss seeing the treasure of true if alloyed gold 
that lies there; sure too that they will understand, as we cannot 
understand, how to send 

a spirt 
O' the proper fiery acid o'er its face; 
And forth the alloy unfastened flies in fume, 
While, self-sufficient now, the shape remains. 
The rondure brave, the lilied loveliness, 
Gold as it was, is, shall be evermore. 

Margaret L. Woods. 



ROBERT BROWNING 



How THEY BROUGHT THE GoOD NeWS FROM GhENT TO AlX 

I 

I sprang to the stirrup, and Joris, and he; 

I galloped, Dirck galloped, we galloped all three; 

"Good speed!" cried the watch, as the gate-bolts undrew; 

"Speed!" echoed the wall to us galloping through; 

Behind shut the postern, the lights sank to rest. 

And into the midnight we galloped abreast. 



II 

Not a word to each other; we kept the great pace 
Neck by neck, stride by stride, never changing our place: 
I turned in my saddle and made its girths tight, 
Then shortened each stirrup, and set the pique right, 
Rebuckled the cheek-strap, chained slacker the bit, 
Nor galloped less steadily Roland a whit. 



m 

*Twas moonset at starting; but while we drew near 

Lokeren, the cocks crew, and twilight dawned clear; 

At Boom, a great yellow star came out to see; 

At Duff eld, 'twas morning as plain as could be; 

And from Mecheln church-steeple we heard the half chime, 

So, Joris broke silence with, "Yet there is time!" 



IV 

At Aershot, up leaped of a sudden the sun, 
And against him the cattle stood black every one, 
To stare thro' the mist at us galloping past. 
And I saw my stout galloper Roland at last. 
With resolute shoulders, each butting away 
The haze, as some bluff river headland its spray; 



lo THE ENGLISH POETS, 



And his low head and crest, just one sharp ear bent back 
For my voice, and the other pricked out on his track; 
And one eye's black intelligence, — ever that glance 
O'er its white edge at me, his own master, askance! 
And the thick heavy spume-flakes which aye and anon 
His fierce lips shook upwards in galloping on. 

VI 

By Hasselt, Dirck groaned; and cried Joris, "Stay spur! 
Your Roos galloped bravely, the fault 's not in her. 
We '11 remember at Aix" — for one heard the quick wheeze 
Of her chest, saw the stretched neck and staggering knees. 
And sunk tail, and horrible heave of the flank. 
As down on her haunches she shuddered and sank. 

vn 

So, we were left galloping, Joris and I, 

Past Looz and past Tongres, no cloud in the sky; 

The broad sun above laughed a pitiless laugh, 

'Neath our feet broke the brittle bright stubble Uke chaff; 

Till over by Dalhem a dome-spire sprang white, 

And "Gallop," gasped Joris, "for Aix is in sight!" 

vin 

"How they '11 greet us!" — and all in a moment his roan 
Rolled neck and croup over, lay dead as a stone; 
And there was my Roland to bear the whole weight 
Of the news which alone could save Aix from her fate, 
With his nostrils like pits full of blood to the brim, 
And with circles of red for his eye-sockets' rim. 

IX 

Then I cast loose my buff-coat, each holster let fall, 

Shook off both my jack-boots, let go belt and all. 

Stood up in the stirrup, leaned, patted his ear, 

Called my Roland his pet-name, my horse without peer; 

Clapped my hands, laughed and sang, any noise, bad or good, 

Till at length into Aix Roland galloped and stood. 



ROBERT BROWNING ii 



And all I remember is, friends flocking round 
As I sat with his head 'twixt my knees on the ground; 
And no voice but was praising this Roland of mine, 
As I poured down his throat our last measure of wine, 
Which (the burgesses voted by common consent) 
Was no more than his due who brought good news from Ghent. 

(1838.) 



Pippa's Song 

The year 's at the spring, ^ 
And day 's at the morn; ^ 
Morning 's at seven; i^ 

The hill-side 's dew-pearled; ^ 
The lark 's on the wing; ^ 
The snail 's on the thorn: Ni 
God 's in his heaven — ^ 
All 's right with the woiid! tS 

(1841.) 



The Bishop orders his Tomb at Saint Praxed's Church 

Rome, 15 — 

Vanity, saith the preacher, vanity! 
Draw round my bed: is Anselm keeping back? 
Nephews — sons mine ... ah God, I know not! Well- 
She, men would have to be your mpther once. 
Old Gandolf envied me, so fair she was! 
What 's done is done, and she is dead beside. 
Dead long ago, and I am Bishop since, 
And as she died so must we die ourselves, 

d thence ye may perceive the world 's a dreamX 
ife, how and what is it? As here I lie 
In this state-chamber, djdng by degrees. 
Hours and long hours in the dead night, I ask 
"Do I live, am I dead?" Peace, peace seems all. 
Saint Praxed's ever was the church for peace; 



12 THE ENGLISH POETS 

And so, about this tomb of mine. I fought 

With tooth and nail to save my niche, ye know: 

— Old Gandolf cozened me, despite my care; 

Shrewd was that snatch from out the comer South 

He graced his carrion with, God curse the same! 

Yet still my niche is not so cramped but thence 

One sees the pulpit on the epistle-side, 

And somewhat of the choir, those silent seats, 

And up into the aery dome where live 

The angels, and a sunbeam 's sure to lurk: 

And I shall fill my slab of basalt there, 

And 'neath my tabernacle take my rest. 

With those nine columns round me, two and two, 

The odd one at my feet where Anselm stands: 

Peach-blossom marble all, the rare, the ripe 

As fresh-poured red wine of a mighty pulse. 

— Old Gandolf with his paltry onion-stone. 

Put me where I may look at him! True peach, 

Rosy and flawless: how I earned the prize! 

Draw close: that conflagration of my church 

— ^What then? So much was saved if aught were missed! 

My sons, ye would not be my death! Go dig 

The white-grape vineyard where the oil-press stood, 

Drop water gently till the surface sink, 

And if ye find ... Ah God, I know not, I! . . . 

Bedded in store of rotten figleaves soft, 

And corded up in a tight olive-frail. 

Some lump, ah God, of lapis lazuli. 

Big as a Jew's head cut off at the nape. 

Blue as a vein o'er the Madonna's breast . . . 

Sons, all have I bequeathed you, villas, all, 

That brave Frascati villa with its bath. 

So, let the blue lump poise between my knees, 

Like God the Father's globe on both his hands 

Ye worship in the Jesu Church so gay. 

For Gandolf shall not choose but see and burst! i 

Swift as a weaver's shuttle fleet our years: 

Man goeth to the grave, and where is he? 

Did I say basalt for my slab, sons? Black — 

'Twas ever antique-black I meant! How else . 

Shall ye contrast my frieze to come beneath? 



ROBERT BROWNING 13 



The bas-relief in bronze ye promised me, 

Those Pans and Nymphs ye wot of, and perchance 

Some tripod, thyrsus, with a vase or so, 

The Saviour at his sermon on the mount, 

Saint Praxed in a glory, and one Pan 

Ready to twitch the Nymph's last garment off, 

And Moses with the tables . . . but I know 

Ye mark me not! What do they whisper thee. 

Child of my bowels, Anselm? Ah, ye hope 

To revel down my villas while I gasp 

Bricked o'er with beggar's mouldy travertine 

Which Gandolf from his tomb-top chuckles at I 

Nay, boys, ye love me — all of jasper, then! 

'Tis jasper ye stand pledged to, lest I grieve 

My bath must needs be left behind, alas! 

One block, pure green as a pistachio-nut. 

There 's plenty jasper somewhere in the world — 

And have I not Saint Praxed's ear to pray 

Horses for ye, and brown Greek manuscripts, 

And mistresses with great smooth marbly limbs? 

— ^That 's if ye carve my epitaph aright. 

Choice Latin, picked phrase, Tully's every word, 

No gaudy ware like Gandolf 's second line — 

Tully, my masters? Ulpian serves his need! 

And then how I shall lie through centuries, 

And hear the blessed mutter of the mass, 

And see God made and eaten all day long. 

And feel the steady candle-flame, and taste 

Good strong thick stupefying incense-smoke! 

For as I lie here, hours of the dead night, 

Dying in state and by such slow degrees, 

I fold my arms as if they clasped a crook. 

And stretch my feet forth straight as stone can point. 

And let the bedclothes, for a mortcloth, drop 

Into great laps and folds of sculptor's work: 

And as yon tapers dwindle, and strange thoughts 

Grow, with a certain humming in my ears, 

About the life before I lived this life. 

And this life too, popes, cardinals, and priests. 

Saint Praxed at his sermon on the mount, 

Your tall pale mother with her talking eyes. 



14 THE ENGLISH POETS 

And new-found agate urns as fresh as day, 

And marble's language, Latin pure, discreet, 

— Aha, ELUCESCEBAT quoth our friend? 

No Tully, said I, Ulpian at the best! 

Evil and brief hath been my pilgrimage. 

All lapis y all, sons! Else I give the Pope 

My villas! Will ye ever eat my heart? 

Ever your eyes were as a lizard's quick, 

They glitter like your mother's for my soul, 

Or ye would heighten my impoverished frieze, 

Piece out its starved design, and fill my vase 

With grapes, and add a vizor and a Term, 

And to the tripod ye would tie a lynx 

That in his struggle throws the th)n^us down. 

To comfort me on my entablature 

Whereon I am to lie till I must ask 

"Do I live, am I dead?" There, leave me, there I 

For ye have stabbed me with ingratitude 

To death: ye wish it — God, ye wish it! Stone — 

Gritstone, a-crumble! Clammy squares which sweat 

As if the corpse they keep were oozing through — 

And no more lapis to delight the world! 

Well go! I bless ye. Fewer tapers there. 

But in a row: and, going, turn your backs 

— ^Ay, like departing altar-ministrants, 

And leave me in my church, the church for peace. 

That I may watch at leisure if he leers — 

Old Gandolf , at me, from his onion-stone, 

As still he envied me, so fair she was! 

(1845.) 



ROBERT BROWNING IS 



The Lost Leader 



Just for a handful of silver he left us, 

Just for a riband to stick in his coat — 
Found the one gift of which fortune bereft us, 

Lost all the others she lets us devote; 
They, with the gold to give, doled him out silver, 

So much was theirs who so little allowed: 
How all our copper had gone for his service! 

Rags — ^were they purple, his heart had been proud! 
We that had loved him so, followed him, honoured him. 

Lived in his mild and magnificent eye. 
Learned his great language, caught his clear accents. 

Made him our pattern to live and to die! 
Shakespeare was of us, Milton was for us, 

Bums, Shelley, were with us, — they watch from their graves! 
He alone breaks from the van and the free men ,-. 

— ^He alone sinks to the rear and the slaves! 



n 

We shall march prospering, — ^not thro' his presence; 

Songs may inspirit us, — ^not from his lyre; 
Deeds will be done, — ^while he boasts his quiescence. 

Still bidding crouch whom the rest bade aspire. 
Blot out his name, then, record one lost soul more, 

One task more declined, one more footpath untrod. 
One more deviPs-triumph and sorrow for angels. 

One wrong more to man, one more insult to God! 
Life's night begins: let him never come back to us! 

There will be doubt, hesitation and pain. 
Forced praise on our part — ^the glimmer of twilight. 

Never glad confident morning again! 
Best fight on well, for we taught him — strike gallantly. 

Menace our heart ere we master his own; 
Then let him receive the new knowledge and wait us, 

Pardoned in heaven, the first by the throne! 

(1845.) 



i6 THE ENGLISH POETS 

David Singing Before Saul 

(From Said) 

vm 

And I paused, held my breath in such silence, and listened apart; 
And the tent shook, for mighty Saul shuddered: and sparkles 'gan 

dart 
From the jewels that woke in his turban, at once with a start. 
All its lordly male-sapphires, and rubies courageous at heart. 
So the head: but the body still moved not, still hung there erect. 
And I bent once again to my playing, pursued it unchecked, 
As I sang, — 

DC 

"Oh, our manhood's prime vigour! No spirit feels waste. 
Not a muscle is stopped in its playing nor sinew unbraced. 
Oh, the wild joys of living! the leaping from rock up to rock. 
The strong rending of boughs from the fir-tree, the cool silver shock 
Of the plunge in a pool's living water, the hunt of the bear, 
And the sultriness showing the lion is couched in his lair. 
And the meal, the rich dates yellowed over with gold dust divine. 
And the locust-flesh steeped in the pitcher, the full draught of wine. 
And the sleep in the dried river-channel where bulrushes tell 
That the water was wont to go warbling so softly and well. 
How good is man's life, the mere living! how fit to employ 
All the heart and the soul and the senses forever in joy! 
Hast thou loved the white locks of thy father, whose sword thou 

didst guard 
When he trusted thee forth with the armies, for glorious reward? 
Didst thou kiss the thin hands of thy mother, held up as men sung 
The low song of the nearly departed, and hear her faint tongue 
Joining in while it could to the witness *Let one more attest, 
I have lived, seen God's hand thro' a lifetime, and all was for 

best?' 
Then they sung thro' their tears in strong triumph, not much, 

but the rest. 
And thy brothers, the help and the contest, the working whence 

grew 
Such result as, from seething grape-bundles, the spirit strained true: 



ROBERT BROWNING 17 

And the friends of thy boyhood — ^that boyhood of wonder and hope, 
Present promise and wealth of the future beyond the eye's scope, — 
Till lo, thou art grown to a monarch; a people is thine; 
And all gifts, which the world offers singly, on one head combine! 
On one head, all the beauty and strength, love and rage (like the 

throe 
That, a-work in the rock, helps its labour and lets the gold go) 
High ambition and deeds which surpass it, fame crowning them, — 

aU 
Brought to blaze on the head of one creature — King Saull" 



And lo, with that leap of my spirit, — ^heart, hand, harp and voice. 
Each lifting SauPs name out of sorrow, each bidding rejoice 
Saul's fame in the light it was made for — ^as when, dare I say. 
The Lord's army, in rapture of service, strains through its array. 
And upsoareth the cherubim-chariot — " Saul ! " cried I, and stopped, 
And waited the thing that should follow. Then Saul, who hung 

propped 
By the tent's cross-support in the centre, was struck by his name. 
Have ye seen when Spring's arrowy summons goes right to the aim. 
And some mountain, the last to withstand her, that held (he alone, 
While the vale laughed in freedom and flowers) on a broad bust 

of stone 
A year's snow bound about for a breastplate, — ^leaves grasp of 

the sheet? 
Fold on fold all at once it crowds thunderously down to his feet. 
And there fronts you, stark, black, but alive yet, your mountain 

of old. 
With his rents, the successive bequeathings of ages untold: 
Yea, each harm got in fighting your battles, each furrow and scar 
Of his head thrust 'twixt you and the tempest — all hail, there they 

are! 
— ^Now again to be softened with verdure, again hold the nest 
Of the dove, tempt the goat and its young to the green on his crest 
For their food in the ardours of summer. One long shudder thrilled 
All the tent till the very air tingled, then sank and was stilled 
At the King's self left standing before me, released and aware. 

(1845.) 



i8 THE ENGLISH POETS 

Home Thoughts, from Abroad 
I 
Oh, to be in England 
Now that April 's there, 
And whoever wakes in England 
Sees, some morning, unaware. 
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf 
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf. 
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough 
In England — now! 

n 

And after April, when May follows. 

And the whitethroat builds, and all the swallows! 

Hark, where my blossomed pear-tree in the hedge 

Leans to the field and scatters on the clover 

Blossoms and dewdrops — at the bent spray's edge — 

That 's the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over. 

Lest you should think he never could recapture 

The first fine careless rapture! 

And, though the fields look rough with .hoary dew. 

All will be gay when noontide wakes anew 

The buttercups, the little children's dower 

— Far brighter than this gaudy melon-flower! 

(1845.) 

Love among the Rxjins 
I 

Where the quiet-coloured end of evening smiles. 

Miles and miles. 
On the solitary pastures where our sheep 

Half -asleep 
Tinkle homeward thro' the twilight, stray or stop 

As they crop — 
Was the site once of a city great and gay, 

(So they say) 
Of our country's very capital, its prince. 

Ages since, 
Held his court in, gathered councils, wielding far 

Peace or war. 



ROBERT BROWNING ig 



n 

Now — the country does not even boast a tree, 

As you see, 
To distinguish slopes of verdure, certain rill^ 

From the hills 
Intersect and give a name to, (else they run 

Into one) 
Where the domed and daring palace shot its spires 

Up like fires 
O'er the hundred-gated circuit of a wall 

Bounding all, 
Made of marble, nien might march on nor be pressed 

Twelve abreast. 

m 

And such plenty and perfection, see, of grass 

Never was! 
Such a carpet as, this summer-time, overspreads 

And embeds 
Every vestige of the city, guessed alone. 

Stock or stone — 
Where a multitude of men breathed joy and woe 

Long ago; 
Lust of glory pricked their hearts up, dread of shame 

Struck them tame; 
And that glory and that shame alike, the gold 

Bought and sold. 

IV 

Now, — ^The single little turret that remains 

On the plains. 
By the caper overrooted, by the gourd 

Overscored, 
While the patching houseleek's head of blossom winks 

Through the chinks — 
Marks the basement whence a tower in ancient time 

Sprang sublime, 
And a burning ring, all round, the chariots traced 

As they raced. 
And the monarch and his minions and his dames 

Viewed the games. 



20 THE ENGLISH POETS 

V 
And I know, while thus the quiet-coloured eve 

Smiles to leave 
To their folding, all our many tinkling fleece 

In such peace. 
And the slopes and rills in undistinguished grey 

Melt away — 
That a girl with eager eyes and yellow hair 

Waits me there 
In the turret whence the charioteers caught soul 

For the goal. 
When the king looked, where she looks now, breathless, dumb 

Till I come. 

VI 

But he looked upon the city, every side. 

Far and wide. 
All the mountains topped with temples, all the glades* 

Colonnades, 
All the causeys, bridges, aqueducts, — ^and then. 

All the men! 
When I do come, she will speak not, she will stand. 

Either hand 
On my shoulder, give her eyes the first embrace 

Of my face. 
Ere we rush, ere we extinguish sight and speech 

Each on each. 

vn 

In one year they sent a million fighters forth 

South and North, 
And they built their gods a brazen pillar high 

As the sky. 
Yet reserved a thousand chariots in full force — 

Gold, of course. 
Oh heart! oh blood that freezes, blood that burns! 

Earth's returns 
For whole centuries of folly, noise, and sin! 

Shut them in, 
With their triumphs and their glories and the rest! 

I-oveisbest. (18'?';) 



ROBERT BROWNING 21 



Inctoent of the French Camp 

I 

You know, we French stormed Ratisbon: 

A mile or so away, 
On a little moimd, Napoleon 

Stood on our storming-day; 
With neck out-thrust, you fancy how, 

Legs wide, arms locked behind, 
As if to balance the prone brow 

Oppressive with its mind. 



Just as perhaps he mused " My plans 

That soar, to earth may fall, 
Let once my army-leader Lannes 

Waver at yonder wall, — " 
Out 'twixt the battery-smokes there flew 

A rider, bound on bound 
Full-galloping; nor bridle drew 

Until he reached the mound. 

m 
Then off there flung in smiling joy, 

And held himself erect 
By just his horse's mane, a boy: 

You hardly could suspect — 
(So tight he kept his lips compressed, 

Scarce any blood came through) 
You looked twice ere you saw his breast 

Was all but shot in two. 

IV 

"Well," cried he, "Emperor, by God's grace 

We Ve got you Ratisbon! 
The Marshal 's in the market-place, 

And you '11 be there anon 
To see your flag-bird flap his vans 

Where I, to heart's desire. 
Perched him! " The chief's eye flashed; his plans 

Soared up again like fire. 



22 TBE ENGLISH POETS 



The chief's eye flashed; but presently 

Softened itself, as sheathes 
A film the mother-eagle's eye 

When her bruised eaglet breathes. 
" You 're wounded ! " " Nay," the soldier's pride 

Touched to the quick, he said : 
"I'm killed, Sire!" And his chief beside. 

Smiling the boy fell dead. 



Two IN THE CaMFAGNA 

I 

I wonder do you feel to-day 
As I have felt since, hand in hand, 

We sat down on the grass, to stray 
In spirit better through the land. 

This mom of Rome and May? 

n 

For me, I touched a thought, I know. 
Has tantalized me many times, 

(Like turns of thread the spiders throw 
Mocking across our path) for rhymes 

To catch at and let go. 

Ill 

Help me to hold it! First it left 
The yellowing fennel, run to seed 

There, branching from the brickwork's cleft, 
Some old tomb's ruin: yonder weed 

Took up the floating weft, 

IV 

Where one small orange cup amassed 
Five beetles, — blind and green they grope. 

Among the honey-meal: and last, 
Everywhere on the grassy slope, 

I traced it. Hold it fast! 



ROBERT BROWNING 23 



The champaign with its endless fleece 
Of feathery grasses everywhere! 

Silence and passion, joy and peace^ 
An everlasting wash of air — 

Rome's ghost since her decease. 

VI 

Such life here, through such lengths of hours, 
Such miracles performed in play. 

Such primal naked forms of flowers. 
Such letting nature have her way 

While heaven looks from its towers! 

vn 

How say you? Let us, O my dove. 

Let us be unashamed of soul. 
As earth lies bare to heaven above I 

How is it under our control 
To love or not to love? 

vin 

I would that you were all to me. 
You that are just so much, no more. 

Nor yours nor mine, nor slave nor free! 
Where does the fault lie? What the core 

O' the wound, since wound must be? 

IX 

I would I could adopt your will, 
See with your eyes, and set my heart 

Beating by yours, and drink my fill 
At your soul's springs, — your part my part 

In life, for good and ill. 

X 

No. I yearn upward, touch you close, 
Then stand away. I kiss your cheek, 

Catch your soul's warmth, — I pluck the rose 
And love it more than tongue can speak — 

Then the good minute goes. 



24 THE ENGLISH POETS 

XI 

Already how am I so far 
Out of that minute? Must I go 

Still like the thistle-ball, no bar, 
Onward, whenever light winds blow, 

Fixed by no friendly star? 

XII 

Just when I seemed about to learn! 

Where is the thread now? Off again. 
The old trick! Only I discern — 

Infinite passion, and the pain 
Of finite hearts that yearn. 

(1855.) 

Up at a Villa — ^Down in the City 
(As distinguished by an Italian Person of quality) 



Had I but plenty of money, money enough and to spare, 
The house for me, no doubt, were a house in the city-square; 
Ah, such a life, such a life, as one leads at the window there! 

II 

Something to see, by Bacchus, something to hear, at least! 

There, the whole day long, one's life is a perfect feast; 

While up at a villa one lives, I maintain it, no more than a beast. 

in 

Well now, look at our villa! stuck like the horn of a bull 
Just on a mountain edge as bare as the creature's skull. 
Save a mere shag of a bush with hardly a leaf to pull! 
— I scratch my own, sometimes, to see if the hair 's turned wool. 

IV 

But the city, oh the city — the square with the houses! Why? 
They are stone-faced, white as a curd, there 's something to take 

the eye! 
Houses in four straight lines, not a single front awry; 



ROBERT BROWNING 25 

You watch who crosses and gossips, who saunters, who hurries by; 
Green blinds, as a matter of course, to draw when the sun gets 

high; 
And the shops with fanciful signs which are painted properly. 



What of a villa? though winter be over in March by rights, 

'Tis May perhaps ere the snow shall have withered well off the 

heights: 
YouVe the brown ploughed land before, where the oxen steam 

and wheeze, 
And the hills over-smoked behind by the faint grey olive-trees. 

VI 

Is it better in May, I ask you? You Ve summer all at once; 
In a day he leaps complete with a few strong April suns. 
'Mid the sharp short emerald wheat, scarce arisen three fingers well. 
The wild tulip, at end of its tube, blows out its great red bell 
Like a thin clear bubble of blood, for the children to pick and sell. 

vn 

Is it ever hot in the square? There 's a foimtain to spout and 

splash! 
In the shade it sings and springs; in the shine such foam-bows 

flash 
On the horses with curling flsh-tails, that prance and paddle 

and pash 
Roimd the lady atop in her conch — ^flfty gazers do not abash. 
Though all that she wears is some weeds round her waist in a 

sort of sash. 

vm 

All the year long at the villa, nothing to see though you linger, 
Except yon cjqjress that points like death's lean lifted forefinger. 
Some think fireflies pretty, when they mix i* the com and mingle, 
Or thrid the stinking hemp till the stalks of it seem a-t ingle. 
Late August or early September, the stunning cicala is shrill. 
And the bees keep their tiresome whine roimd the resinous firs 

on the hill. 
Enough of the seasons, — ^I spare you the months of the fever 

and chill. 



26 THE ENGLISH POETS 



IX 

Ere you open your eyes in the city, the blessed church-bells be- 
gin: 

No sooner the bells leave off than the diligence rattles in: 

You get the pick of the news, and it costs you never a pin. 

By and by there's the travelling doctor gives pills, lets blood, 
draws teeth; 

Or the Pulcinello-trumpet breaks up the market beneath. 

At the post-office such a scene-picture — ^the new play, piping hot ! 

And a notice how, only this morning, three liberal thieves were 
shot. 

Above it, behold the Archbishop's most fatherly of rebukes. 

And beneath, with his crown and his lion, some little new law 
of the Duke's! 

Or a sonnet with flowery marge, to the reverend Don So-and-so, 

Who is Dante, Boccaccio, Petrarca, Saint Jerome and Cicero, 

"And moreover," (the sonnet goes rhyming,) "the skirts of Saint 
Paul has reached. 

Having preached us those six Lent-lectures more unctuous than 
ever he preached." 

Noon strikes, — ^here sweeps the procession! our Lady borne smil- 
ing and smart. 

With a pink gauze gown all spangles, and seven swords stuck 
in her heart! 

Bang-whang-whang goes the drum, tooUe-te-tootle the fife; 

No keeping one's haunches still: it 's the greatest pleasure in life. 



But bless you, it 's dear — ^it 's dear! fowls, wine, at double the 

rate. 
They have clapped a new tax upon salt, and what oil pays passing 

the gate 
It's a horror to think of. And so, the villa for me, not the city! 
Beggars can scarcely be choosers: but still — ^ah, the pity, the pity! 
Look, two and two go the priests, then the monks with cowls 

and sandals, 
And the penitents dressed in white shirts, a-holding the yellow 

candles; 



ROBERT BROWNING 2 J 



One, he carries a flag up straight, and another a cross with handles, 
And the Duke's guard brings up the rear, for the better prevention 

of scandals: 
Bang'Whang-whang goes the drum, tootie-te-tooUe the fife. 
Oh, a day in the city-square, there is no such pleasure in life! 

(1855.) 



May and Death 



I 



I wish that when you died last May, 
Charles, there had died along with you 

Three parts of spring's delightful things; 
Ay, and, for me, the fourth part too. 



A foolish thought, and worse, perhaps! 

There must be many a pair of friends 
Who, arm in arm, deserve the warm 

Moon-births and the long evening-«nds. 

in 

So, for their sake, be May still May! 

Let theirnew time, as mine of old. 
Do all it did for me: I bid 

Sweet sights and songs throng manifold. 

IV 

Only, one little sight, one plant. 

Woods have in May, that starts up green 
Save a sole streak which, so to speak, 

Is spring's blood, spilt its leaves between, — 



That, they might spare; a certain wood 
Might miss the plant; their loss were small: 

But I, — whene'er the leaf grows there. 
Its drop comes from my heart, that 's all. 

(1857.) 



28 THE ENGLISH POETS 



Prospice l^ 

Fear death? — to feel the fog in my throat, 

The mist in my face, 
When the snows begin, and the blasts denote 

I am nearing the place, 
The power of the night, the press of the storm, 

The post of the foe; 
Where he stands, the Arch Fear in a visible form, 

Yet the strong man must go: 
For the journey is done and the summit attained. 

And the barriers fall, 
Though a battle 's to fight ere the guerdon be gained. 

The reward of it all. 
I was ever a fighter, so — one fight more, 

The best and the last! 
I would hate that death bandaged my eyes, and forbore, 

And bade me creep past. 
No! let me taste the whole of it, fare like my peers 

The heroes of old. 
Bear the brunt, in a minute pay glad life's arrears 

Of pain, darkness and cold. 
For sudden the worst turns the best to the brave. 

The black minute 's at end. 
And the elements' rage, the fiend-voices that rave. 

Shall dwindle, shall blend. 
Shall change, shall become first a peace out of pain, 

Then a light, then thy breast, 
O thou soul of my soul! I shall clasp thee again, 

And with God be the rest! 

(1861.) 



ROBERT BROWNING 29 



Rabbi Ben Ezra 



Grow old along with me! ^ 

The best is yet to be, *^ 
The last of life, for which the first was made:t> 

Our times are in bis hand ^ 

Who saith "A whole I planned, *- 
Youth shows but half; trust God: see all nor be afraid!*^ 

n 

Not that, amassing flowers, ou 

Youth sighed "Which rose make ours, o^^ 
Which lily leave and then as best recall? "V 

Not that, admiring stars, c 

It yearned, "Nor Jove, nor Mars; a. 
Mine be some figured flame which blends, transcends them all!" ^ 



Not for such hopes and feara V<.o'*'^>^/^ * 

Annulling ycMlth's brief ye^, y^y^"^ ,st^^ 
ijmstrate: fony wide the mafrk! ' j^ \yr^f^ 



Rather I prize the doubt 
Low kinds ex^ without. 
Finished and fihi^^MI untroubled by a spark. 



Low kinds ej^ witl 
inished and fini^^MI unt 

-^^Poor vaunt of life in 



IV 

\ indeed. 

Were man but formed to feed 
On joy, to solely seek and find and feast : 

Such feasting ended, then 

As sure an end to men; 
Irks care the crop-full bird? Frets doubt the maw-crammed beast? 

V 

Rejoice we are allied 

To That which doth provide 
And not partake, effect and not reteive! 

A spark disturbs our clod; 

Nearer we hold of God 
Who gives, than of His tribes that take, I must believe. 



30 THE ENGLISH POETS 

VI 

Then, welcome each rebuff 

That turns earth's smoothness rough, 
Each sting that bids nor sit nor stand but go! 

Be our joys three-parts pain! 

Strive, and hold cheap the strain; 
Learn, nor account the pang; dare, never grudge the throe! 

vn 

For thence, — sl paradox 

Which comforts while it mocks, — 
Shall life succeed in that it seems to fail: 

What I aspired to be, 

And was not, comforts me: 
A brute I might have been, but would not sink i' the scale. 

vin 

What is he but a brute 
Whose flesh has soul to suit. 
Whose spirit works lest arms and legs want play? 
To man, propose this test — 
Thy body at its best, 
!ow far can that project thy soul on its liiie way? 

IX 

Yet gifts should prove their use: 

I own the Past profuse 
Of power each side, perfection every turn: 

Eyes, ears took in their dole. 

Brain treasured up the whole; 
Should not the heart beat once "How good to live and learn?'' 

X 

Not once beat "Praise be Thine! 

I see the whole design, 
I, who saw power, see now love perfect too: 

Perfect I call Thy plan: 

Thanks that I was a man! 
Maker, remake, complete,— I trust what Thou shalt do!" 



UH^ 



ROBERT BROWNING 31 

XI 

For pleasant is this flesh; 

Our soul, in its rose-mesh 
Pulled ever to the earth, still yearns for rest: 

Would we some prize might hold 

To match those manifold 
Possessions of the brute,— gain most, as we did best! 

xn 

Let us not always say 

"Spite of this flesh to-day 
I strove, made head, gained ground upon the whole!" 

As the bird wings and sings. 

Let us cry "All good things 
Are ours, nor soul helps flesh more, now, than flesh helps soul! " 

xm 

Therefore I summon age 

To grant youth's heritage. 
Life's struggle having so far reached its term: 

Thence shall I pass, approved 

A man, for aye removed 
From the developed brute; a god though in the germ. 

XIV 

And I shall thereupon 

Take rest, ere I be gone 
Once more on my adventure brave and new: 

Fearless and unperplexed, 

When I wage battle next. 
What weapons to select, what armour to indue. 

XV 

Youth ended, I shall try 

My gain or loss thereby: 
Leave the fire ashes, what survives is gold: 

And I shall weigh the same, 

Give life its praise or blame: 
Young, all lay in dispute; I shall know, being old. 



32 THE ENGLISH POETS 

XVI 

For, note when evening shuts, 

A certain moment cuts 
The deed off, calls the glory from the grey: 

A whisper from the west 

Shoots — "Add this to the rest, 
Take it and try its worth: here dies another day." 

xvn 

So, still within this life, 

Though lifted o'er its strife. 
Let me discern, compare, pronounce at last, 

"This rage was right i' the main. 

That acquiescence vain: 
The Future 1 may face now I have proved the Past." 

xvm 

For more is not reserved 

J To man, with soul just nerved 

To act to-morrow what he learns to-day: 
Here, work enough to watch 
The Master work, and catch 
Hints of the proper craft, tricks of the tooPs true play. 

XIX 

As it was better, youth 

Should strive, through acts uncouth. 

Toward making, than repose on aught foimd made: 
So, better, age, exempt 
From strife, should know, than tempt 

Further. Thou waitedest age: wait death nor be afraid! 

XX 

Enough now, if the Right 

And Good and Infinite 
Be named here, as thou call'st thy hand thine own, 

With knowledge absolute. 

Subject to no dispute 
From fools that crowded youth, nor let thee feel alone. 



ROBERT BROWNING 33 



XXI 

Be there, for once and all, 

Severed great minds from small, 
Announced to each his station in the Past! 

Was I, the world arraigned, 

Were they, my soul disdained. 
Right? Let age speak the truth and give us peace at last! 

xxn 

Now, who shall arbitrate? 

Ten men love what I hate. 
Shun what I follow, slight what I receive; 

Ten, who in ears and eyes 

Match me: we all surmise. 
They this thing, and I that : whom shall my soul believe? 

xxm 

Not on the vulgar mass 

Called "work," must sentence pass. 
Things done, that took the eye and had the price; 

O'er which, from level stand. 

The low world laid its hand. 
Found straightway to its mind, could value in a trice: 

XXIV 

But all, the world's coarse thumb 

And finger failed to plumb. 
So passed in making up the main accoimt: 

All instincts immature 

All purposes unsure. 
That weighed not as his work, yet swelled the man's amount: 

XXV 

Thoughts hardly to be packed 

Into a narrow act. 
Fancies that broke through language and escaped: 

All I could never be. 

All, men ignored in me. 
This, I was worth to God, whose wheel the pitcher shaped. 



34 THE ENGUSH POETS 

XXVI 

Ay, note that Potter's wheel, 

That metaphor! and feel 
Why time spins fast, why passive lies our clay, — 

Thou, to whom fools propound 

When the wind makes its round, 
''Since life fleets, all is change; the Past gone, seize to-day!" 

xxvn 

Fool! All that is, at all. 

Lasts ever, past recall; 
Earth changes, but thy soul and God stand sure: 

What entered into thee, 

Th(U was, is, and shall be: 
Time's wheel runs back or stops: Potter and clay endure. 

xxvra 

He fixed thee mid this dance 

Of plastic circumstance. 
This Present, thou, forsooth, wouldst fain arrest: 

Machinery just meant 

To give thy soul its bent, 
Try thee and turn thee forth, sufficiently impressed. 

XXDC 

W^at though the earlier grooves 

Which ran the laughing loves 
Around thy base, no longer pause and press? 

What though, about thy rim, 

Skull-things in order grim • 

Grow out, in graver mood, obey the sterner stress? 

XXX 

Look not thou down but up! 
« To uses of a cup. 

The festal board, lamp's flash and trumpet's peal, 

The new wine's foaming flow. 

The Master's lips a-glow! 
Thou, heaven's consummate cup, what need'st thou with earth's 
wheel? 



ROBERT BROWNING 35 



XXXI 

But I need, now as then, 

Thee, God, who mouldest men! 
And since, not even while the whirl was worst. 

Did I, — to the wheel of life 

With shapes and colours rife. 
Bound dizzily, — ^mistake my end, to slake Thy thirst: 

xxxn 

So, take and use Thy work, 

Amend what flaws may lurk. 
What strain o' the stuff, what warpings past the aim! 

My times be in Thy hand! 

Perfect the cup as planned! 
Let age approve of youth, and death complete the same! 

(1864.) 

Confessions 

I 

What is he buzzing in my ears? 

"Now that I come to die, 
Do I view the world as a vale of tears?" 

Ah, reverend sir, not I! 

n 
What I viewed there once, what I view again 

Where the physic bottles stand 
On the table's edge, — is a suburb lane, 

With a wall to my bedside handi. 

m 
That lane sloped, much as the bottles do. 

From a house you could descry 
O'er the garden-wall: is the curtain blue 

Or green to a healthy eye? 

IV 

To mine, it serves for the old June weather 

Blue above lane and wall; 
And that farthest bottle labelled "Ether" 

Is the house overtopping all. 



36 THE ENGLISH POETS 



At a terrace, somewhere near the stopper, 

They watched for me, one Jime, 
A girl: I know, sir, it 's improper. 

My poor mind 's out of time. 

VI 

Only, there was a way . . . you crept 

Close by the side, to dodge 
Eyes in the house, two eyes except: 

They styled their house "The Lodge." 

vn 

What right had a loimger up their lane? 

But, by creeping very close. 
With the good wall's help, — their eyes might strain 

And stretch themselves to Oes, 

vm 

Yet never catch her and me together, 

As she left the attic, there. 
By the rim of the bottle labelled "Ether," 

And stole from stair to stair, 

IX 

And stood by the rose-wreathed gate. Alas, 

We loved, sir — used to meet : 
How sad and bad and mad it was — 

But then, how it was sweet! 

(1864.) 



ROBERT BROWNING 37 



The Ring and the Book 

(Dedication) 

O lyrip love, half angel and half bird 

And all a wonder and a wild desire, — 

Boldest of hearts that ever braved the sun, 

Took sanctuary within the holier blue, 

And sang a kindred soul out to his face, — 

Yet human at the red-ripe of the heart — 

When the first summons from the darkling earth 

Reached thee amid thy chambers, blanched their blue, 

And bared them of the glory — ^to drop down. 

To toil for man, to suffer or to die, — 

This is the same voice: can thy soul know change? 

Hail then, and harken from the realms of help! 

Never may I commence my song, my due 

To God who best taught song by gift of thee, 

Except with bent head and beseeching hand — 

That still, despite the distance and the dark, 

What was, again may be; some interchange 

Of grace, some splendour once thy very thought. 

Some benediction anciently thy smile: 

— ^Never conclude, but raising hand and he^d 

Thither where eyes, that cannot reach, yet yearn 

For all hope, all sustainment, all reward, 

Their utmost up and on, — so blessing back 

In those thy realms of help, that heaven thy home. 

Some whiteness which, I judge, thy face makes proud. 

Some wanness where, I think, thy foot may fall! 

(1868.) 



38 THE ENGLISH POETS 



The Householder 
(Epilogue to Fifine at the Fair) 



Savage I was sitting in my house, late, lone: 

Dreary, weary with the long day's work: 
Head of me, heart of me, stupid as a stone: 

Tongue-tied now, now blaspheming like a Turk; 
When, in a moment, just a knock, call, cry. 

Half a pang and all a rapture, there again were we!- 
"What, and is it really you again?" quoth I: 

"I again, what else did you expect?" quoth She. 



u 

"Never mind, hie away from this old house — 

Every crumbling brick embrowned with sin and shame! 
Quick, in its corners ere certain shapes arouse! 

Let them — every devil of the night — lay claim. 
Make and mend, or rap and rend, for me! Goodbye! 

God be their guard from disturbance at their glee. 
Till, crasfi, down comes the carcass in a heap!" quoth I: 

"Nay, but there's a decency required!" quoth She. 



m 

"Ah, but if you knew how time has dragged, days, nights! 

All the neighbour-talk with man and maid-=-such men! 
All the fuss and trouble of street-soimds, window-sights: 

All the worry of flapping door and echoing roof; and then 
All the fancies . . . Who were they had leave, dared try 

Darker arts that almost struck despair in me? 
If you knew but how I dwelt down here!" quoth I: 

"And was I so better ofiF up there?" quoth She. 



ROBERT BROWNING 39 

IV 

"Help and get it overl Reunited to his wife % 

(How draw up the paper lets the parish-people know?) 
Lies M.J or N., departed from this life. 

Day the this or thatj month and year the so and so. 
What i' the way of final flourish? Prose, verse? Try! 

Affliction sore long time he bore, or, what is it to be? 
Till God did please to grant him ease. Do end!" quoth I: 

"I end with — ^Love is all and Death is nought!" quoth She. 

(1872.) 



Epilogue to Asolando 

At the midnight in the silence of the sleep-time. 

When you set your fancies free, 
Will they pass to where — ^by death, fools think, imprisoned — 
Low he lies who once so loved you, whom you loved so, 
— Pity me? 

Oh to love so, be so loved, yet so mistaken! 

What had I on earth to do 
With the slothful, with the mawkis h, the unmanly? 
Like the aimless, helpless, hopeless did I drivel 
— ^Being — ^who? 

One who never turned his back but marched breast forward. 

Never doubted clouds would break. 
Never dreamed, though right were worsted, wrong would triumph, 
Held we fall to rise, are baffled to fight better. 
Sleep to wake. 

No, at noonday in the bustle of man's work-time 

Greet the unseen with a cheer! 
Bid him forward, breast and back as either should be, 
"Strive and thrive!" cry "Speed, — ^fight on, fare ever 
There as here!" 

(1889.) 



MATTHEW ARNOLD 

[Eldest son of Dr. Arnold, of Rugby; bom Dec. 24, 1822, at Laleham, 
near Staines; educated at Winchester, Rugby, and Balliol College, Oxford. 
Won the Newdigate Prize, 1843, with a poem on " Cromwell." Published 
The Strayed Reveller, and other Poems. By A., 1849; Empedocles on 
Etna, and other Poems (same signature), 1852; Poems, First Series, 
1853; Poems, Second Series, 1855. Elected Professor of Poetry at 
Oxford, 1857; re-elected, 1862 till 1867. It was as professorial lectures 
that his chief critical essays were first given to the world. He published 
Merope, a Tragedy, 1858; New Poems, 1867; and issued his collected 
poems in 1877, 1881, and 1885. His numerous prose writings were 
published between 1853 and 1888, He died suddenly, at Liverpool, on 
April 15, 1888.] 

It is with a sad appropriateness that we include in the "defini- 
tive" edition of The English Poets the poems of the eminent writer 
to whom we owe the General Introduction to the volumes. » The 
fourteen years which have elapsed since their first publication have 
brought to a close the life of many a great Englishman, and to 
the poets they have been especiaUy fatal. Rossetti went first, 
then Arnold, then his seniors, Browning and Tennyson. Sharing 
as Arnold did the greatness of the last two, there is a first and 
great distinction to be noticed between them and him. They 
were poets by profession, so to speak; they lived for poetry, and 
went on producing it regularly till the end of their long lives. He, 
on the other hand, was a busy public official, and from the year 
1851 till his retirement from the Education Department in 1885, 
all the time that he could give to literature was saved from an 
exhausting daily roimd of work. Again, his literary vocation was 
not all poetical, as theirs was. It was as a critic that he was, in 
his life-time, most widely known, and that he had the most im- 
mediate effect upon his generation. But if the stream of his 
verse is scanty; if his three volumes look slight beside the six- 
teen volumes of Browning; if, during a wide space of his middle 
life he almost ceased to write poetry — on the other hand, how 

* Written in 1894. 



MATTHEW ARNOLD 41 

little there is that one could wish away! A certain largeness 
of production is undoubtedly necessary before one can admit 
the claim of an artist to the highest place; but at the same time, 
excess of production is a commoner fault with poets than its 
contrary is. Instances of an over-chastened Muse like Gray's, m 
in a less degree, like Arnold's, are comparatively rare among true 
poets. While of Dryden, of Wordsworth, of Byron, more than 
half might well be spared, there is scarcely anything in Arnold's 
volumes — except perhaps Balder Dead — that has not a distinct 
value of its own, scarcely anything that ought not to be preserved. 
Of no poet is it more difficult to make a satisfying selection; and 
we may echo in serious earnest the answer that he used laughingly 
to make to the friends who complained that this or that favourite 
was excluded from the poems chosen by him for the Golden 
Treasury volume — "If I had had my own way I should have 
included everjrthing!" 

Matthew Arnold's writings, in poetry and in prose, are their 
own commentary; at least, even those who knew him best can 
say little about their genesis or their sources beyond what they 
themselves convey. No man of letters was ever more genial, or 
more affectionate to his friends, and yet none ever told less, even 
in intimate private letters, about his literary work or about those 
inmost thoughts of his which from time to time found expression 
m poetry. As a rule, he composed " in his head," like Wordsworth, 
and wrote down his verse on any scraps of paper that came handy; 
whereas his prose was always written methodically, in the early 
morning hours. He had the habit, almost the passion, of de- 
stroying whatever manuscripts had served their purpose; and at 
his death scarcely any scraps of his writings were found, and 
scarcely any of the multitudes of letters that he had received. 
Yet his letters to his family and friends remain, of course; and it is 
to be hoped that before long we shall have Mr. George Russell's 
selection from them. This, though it will contain but few actual 
references to the poems, will naturally throw light upon them, and 
will show, as they do, how early his mind reached its maturity. 
The first little volume of poems, it will be remembered, was pub- 
lished in 1849, when Arnold was twenty-seven; but five or six 
years before that he had written letters containing judgments which 
he would have felt and expressed in just the same way twenty years 
later.. From the beginning, in verse as in his intimate prose, 
Artiold gave evidence of a singularly clear, open mind, "playing 



42 THE ENGLISH POETS 

freely'' upon all the aspects and all the problons of life as they 
presented themselves to him in turn. That was his natural en- 
dowment; but from the beginning, also, he set himself to enrich 
it by the persistent study of ''the best that is known and thought 
in the world," as taught by the great writers of all times. Among 
these writers, the Greeks came first, and their influence penetrated 
deepest. Quite early in his poetical history he wrote his memor- 
able sonnet ''^To a Friend," in answer to his question, "Who prop, 
in these bad days, my mind?"; and the answer that he gave was 
to name two Greek poets and a Greek moralist. Homer, Sophocles, 
Epictetus. Companions of his youth, these influences remained 
with him to the end. One of the most surprising quahties of 
Arnold *s mind was his power, in spite of the complexity of his own 
culture — ^in spite of the Hebraistic elements in it, and of the cross- 
influences of his multifarious reading — ^his power of assimi- 
lating the Greek spirit in its simplicity, and of presenting ideas, 
characters, images, with the clearness of Phidian sculpture or of 
Sophoclean verse. None was more conscious than he of "this 
disease of modem life, with its sick hurry, its divided aims" 
— ^but none was less personally infected by it. Luddity, the 
subject of one of the latest and most brilliant of his public addresses, 
was his characteristic from the first; a "sad lucidity" perhaps, if 
we are to trust the bulk of his poems, but one that was never 
clouded by confusion. This "critic clearness" was doubtless a 
gift of nature to him, but it was developed by a study of Greek 
literature which, with him, did not end when he left the University. 
Why, especially after the great success of his Oxford lecture on 
Theocritus ("Pagan and Mediaeval Religious Sentiment") — ^why 
he never carried out his scheme of a volume on the Greek poets, his 
friends never quite understood. He was not, indeed, a professed 
scholar, in the school and college sense of the word, but no writer 
of his day could have written so adequately of the poetical qual- 
ities of Sophocles and Pindar, just as none has written so sug« 
gestively of translating Homer. 

Like Goethe, Arnold assimilated Greek forms in many of his 
writings. "Even after his master," wrote Mr. Swinburne in 1867, 
" this disciple of Sophocles holds his high place; he has matched 
against the Attic of the gods this Hyperborean dialect of ours, and 
has not earned the doom of Mars3ras." Such fragments as those 
from a Deianira and an Antigone are dose imitations, while the 
lovdy poem of The Strayed ReveUer is as reminiscent of Gre^ 



MATTHEW ARNOLD 43 

form as of Greek matter. The special and characteristic Arnold 
metre, the unrhymed, lilting, quasi-anapaestic measure of Heine's 
Grave and Rugby Chapel, is a sort of adaptation, too, from Greek 
choric metres. It must not indeed be supposed, wrote Arnold in 
the preface to Merope, "that these last [he is speaking of the cho- 
ruses there, but the words have a wider application] are the repro- 
duction of any Greek choric measures. So to adapt Greek meas- 
ures to English verse is impossible: what I have done is to try to 
follow rhythms which produced on my own feeling a similar im- 
pression to that produced on it by the rhythms of Greek choric 
poetry." The result is the metre of which we have spoken — Greek 
and yet not Greek; h'ke the Attic chorus, but very different. 

But just as there is a difference between the Attic and the 
Hyperborean in form, so there is in matter. Strongly as Arnold's 
view of the world, his "criticism of life," was influenced by Greek 
poetry and philosophy, there is a great, ^n essential distinction 
between him and his models. How comes it, people often ask, 
that he, over whose conversation, and over most of whose prose 
work, there played a delightful and a perpetual humour, should in 
his verse be so uniformly grave, so far removed from humour? 
How comes it that in his poetry he brings, not once nor twice, but 
perpetually, "the eternal note of sadness in"? The truth is, that 
verse was for him, except in two or three of the poems with which he 
amused some of his latest days, the expression of his gravest self, 
and his most abiding thought. And here there was, as it were, 
a permanent nostalgie of a simpler and earlier age; a pained sense 
that the modem mind, delight as it may in the forms that ancient 
art has left us, can never re-create for itself the moral atmosphere 
in which that art had its origin. Hence the almost tragic note that 
sounds through so much of Arnold's poetry; the sad reflexion that 
he, whom nature and training had endowed with Hellenic cleamess 
of vision and utterance, should have to express the thoughts of an 
age in which all is confusion and perplexity. 

Hence, again, his fondness for certain types, repeating one 
another to a certain extent: Empedocles, who in his inability to 
live either for himself or in the world, plunges into the crater of 
Etna; the Scholar Gypsy, who seeks refuge among a primitive race 
from the torment of civQization; Obermann, retreating to the Swiss 
mountains to contemplate life and his own soul. That so much of 
Arnold's poetry is given up to this class of subjects and of thoughts 
is largely due to the fact that his early manhood, the time when his 



44 THE ENGLISH POETS 

poetic production was most active, lay in those years of "storm 
and stress," 1840 to 1850 — tfee years of Chartism, of the "Oxford 
Movement," of continental revolution, of railway expansion, the 
years of Carlyle's greatest activity, and of George Sand's greatest 
eflFectiveness. 

We have said that in coimting up the literary influences that 
worked upon Arnold, the chief place must be given to the Greeks. 
He cared much less for the Latin than for the Greek writers, and 
was less touched by the charm of Virgil than Tennyson was; the 
lines to "The Mantovano," indeed, would have found as little re- 
sponse in him as would the alcaics "To Milton." In an Oxford 
lecture, famous at the time, but never printed, he called Lucretius 
"morbid"; another lecture, on Propertius, he often annoimced but 
never deUvered. Of the author of Literature and Dogma it need 
hardly be said that the Bible, considered both as h'terature and as a 
storehouse of profoimd reflexions upon human life, had a strong and 
permanent influence upon him. Some of the Fathers touched him 
a good deal; he studied St. Augustine's Confessions and the 
Imitation^ and felt their power and charm; and the Introduction to 
these volumes of ours has put on record his view of Dante, that 
crown and flower of the mediaeval Italian mind. But none of these 
were so much to him as the modems — ^Shakespeare and Montaigne 
in their degree, Wordsworth and Byron of course, but most of all 
Goethe and some French writers of his own generation. One of 
his most treasured books was a fine copy of the thirty-volume edi- 
tion of Goethe, which he had read through and assimilated as he 
assimilated the Greek classics in his boyhood. The "wide and 
luminous view" of the writer whom Arnold called "the greatest 
poet of his time, the greatest critic of all times," had an extraor- 
dinary attraction for him. Sanity, the absence of caprice — these 
were to him the essential things; he found them in the Greeks, in 
Goethe, and in the great French tradition from Moliere to Leconte 
de Lisle, from Montaigne to Sainte-Beuve. It was because he did 
not find them in Victor Hugo that he could never bring himself 
to join the body of that poet's votaries, and that he once said to the 
present writer, "there is more in the one little volume of Andr6 
Ch6nier than in the whole forty volumes of Hugo." 

It is hoped that the following selections, though far too brief to 
represent fully work of a poet so rich in thought as Arnold was, 
will be found to contain the most perfect, and many of the most 
suggestive and stimulating, of his poems. Many old favourites, 



MATTHEW ARNOLD 45 

indeed, will be missed altogether, and in two or tnree instances — not 
more — extracts have been given where the complete poems nught 
have been expected or wished for. From a long narrative poem 
such as Sohrab and Rustum, this choice of a mere fragment was 
of course inevitable; and the Editor, after much consideration, has 
decided to exclude the whole of the beautiful early poem Resigna- 
tion, except the famous page about the Poet. Arnold himself, 
though he never moved away from the conclusions of a poem which 
taught that the secret of life was " not joy but peace," came to re- 
gard it as faulty in workmanship, diffuse, and immature. One of 
the most interesting of his poems, speaking biographically, the 
Stanzas from the Grande Chartreuse, has also been shut out, on the* 
ground of a certain monotony in its composition; and the same 
fate, merely for reasons of space, has befallen that vivid simunaiy, 
as it may be called, of the spiritual history of Europe, Ohermann 
Once More. We have printed Thyrsis, but have been forced to 
omit the poem which is, as it were, the introduction to it. The 
Scholar Gypsy, though it is one of the most characteristic of all, 
and thou^ the long simile with which it concludes is as famous as 
anything the author ever wrote. Again, we have been forced to 
limit ourselves to one small fragment of Empedocles on Etna, the 
Song of Callicles, and have had to exclude the splendid monologue 
of the philosopher. Arnold for many years condemned it himself, 
and withdrew from publication the whole poem for the reasons 
which he gave in the celebrated Preface of 1853; but reflexion and 
the persuasions of his friends led him to cancel the sentence of ban- 
ishment, and Empedocles reappeared in the "New Poems" of 1867. 
Since that time it has held its place in every edition, and the 
opinion of all readers of poetry has confirmed the inclusion of it, 
however true may have been the poet's feeling that it was wanting 
k dramatic action, and was, for enjoyment, too monotonously 
grave. 

Editor. 



46 THE ENGUSH POETS 



To A Friend 

Who prop, thou ask'st, in these bad days, my mind?— 
He much, the old man, who, clearest-soul'd of men. 
Saw The Wide Prospect, and the Asian Fen,* 
And Tmolus hill, and Smyrna bay, though blind. 

Much he, whose friendship I not long since won 
That halting slave, who in Nicopolis 
Taught Arrian, when Vespasian's brutal son 
Clear'd Rome of what most shamed him. But be his 

My special thanks, whose even-balanced soul, 
From first youth tested up to extreme old age. 
Business could not make dull, nor passion wild; 

Who saw life steadily, and saw it whole; 
The mellow glory of Uie Attic stage, 
Singer of sweet Colonus, and its child. 



Shakespeare - ^^Hfi^T 

Others abide our question. Thou art free. ^ 

Wq ask and ask — ^Thou smilest and art still, ^ 

Out-topping knowledge. For the loftiest hill, ^ 

Who to the stars uncrowns his majesty, ^ 

Planting his steadfast footsteps in the sea, & 

Making the heaven of heavens his dwelling-place, 4^C 
Spares but the cloudy border of his base Jb c 

To the foil'd searching of mortality; Ow 

* The name Europe (Edpc^ij, ihe wide prospect) probably describes the 
appearance of the European coast to the Greeks on the coast of Asia 
Minor opposite. The name Asia, again, comes, it has been thought, 
from the muddy fens of the rivers of Asia Minor, such as the Cayster or 
Maeander, which struck the imagination of the Greeks living near them. 
(Author's Note.) 



MATTHEW ARNOLD 47 

And thou, who didst the stars and sunbeams know, ^ 
Self-schoord, self-scann'd, self-honour'd, self-secure, **• 
Didst tread on earth unguess'd at. — Better so! ^ 

All pains the inunortal spirit must endure, 

All weakness which impairs, all griefs which bow, / 

Find their sole speech in that victorious brow. * / 

Requiescat 

Strew on her roses, roses. 

And never a spray of yew! 
In quiet she reposes; 

Ah, would that I did too! 

Her mirth the world required; 

She bathed it in smiles of glee. 
But her heart was tired, tired, 

And now they let her be. 

Her life was turning, turning, 

In mazes of heat and sound. 
But for peace her soul was yearning, 

And now peace laps her round. 

Her cabin'd, ample spirit. 
It fluttered and fail'd for breath. 

To-night it doth inherit 
The vasty hall of death. 



y 



Human Life 



What mortal, when he saw. 

Life's voyage done, his heavenly Friend, 

Could ever yet dare tell him fearlessly: 

"I have kept uninfringed my nature's law; 

The inly-written chart thou gavest me. 

To guide me, I have steer'd by to the end "? 



48 THE ENGLISH POETS 

Ah! let us make no claim. 

On life's incognisable sea, 
,.To too exact a steering of our way; 
[ Let us not fret and fear to miss our aim, 

If some fair coast have lured us to make stay. 

Or some friend hail'd us to keep company. 

Ay! we Would each fain drive ^ 

At random, and not steer by rule. %r 

Weakness! and worse, weakness bestow'd in vain.«- 

Winds from our side the unsuiting consort rive, ou 

We rush by coasts where we had lief remain; •^ 

Man cannot, though he would, live chance's fool. 4^ 

No! as the foaming swath u. 

Of tom-up water, on the main, \ 

Falls heavily away with long-drawn roar c 

On either side the black deep-furrow'd path «^ 

Cut by an onward-labouring vessel's prore, ^ 

And never touches the ship-side again; <r 

Even so we leave behind, Ok. 

As, chartered by some unknown Powers, 4^ 

We stem across the sea of life by night, t. 

The joys which were not for our use designed; — ^ 



The friends to whom we had no natural right. 
The homes that were not destined to be ours. 



[From Resignation] 



I 



The poet, to whose mighty heart 
Heaven doth a quicker pulse impart, 
Subdues that energy to scan 
Not his own course, but that of man. 
Though he move mountains, though his day 
Be pass'd on the proud heights of sway. 
Though he hath loosed a thousand chains, 
Though he hath borne immortal pains. 
Action and suffering though he know — 
He hath not lived, if he lives so. 



MATTHEW ARNOLD 49 

He sees, in some great -historied land, 

A ruler of the people stand, 

Sees his strong thought in fiery flood 

Roll through the heaving multitude, 

Exults — ^yet for no moment's space 

Envies {he all-regarded place. 

Beautiful eyes meet his — and he 

Bears to admire uncravingly; 

They pass — ^he, mingled with the crowd, 

Is in their far-off triumphs proud. 

From some high station he looks down. 

At simset, on a populous town; 

Surveys each happy group, which fleets, 

Toil ended, through the shining streets. 

Each with some errand of its own — 

And does not say: / am alone. 

He sees the gentle stir of birth 

When morning purifies the earth; 

He leans upon a gate and sees 

The pastures, and the quiet trees. 

Low, woody hill, with gracious bound, 

Folds the still valley almost round; 

The cuckoo, loud on some high lawn. 

Is answered from the depth of dawn; 

In the hedge straggling to the stream. 

Pale, dew-drench 'd, half -shut roses gleam; 

But, where the farther side slopes down. 

He sees the drowsy new-waked clown 

In his white quaint-embroider'd frock 

Make, whistling, tow'rd his mist-wreathed flock — 

Slowly, behind his heavy tread. 

The wet, flower'd grass heaves up its head. 

Lean'd on his gate, he gazes — ^tears 

Are in his eyes, and in his ears 

The murmur of a thousand years. 

Before him he sees life unroll, 

A. placid and continuous whole — 

That general life, which does not cease. 

Whose secret is not joy, but peace; 

That life, whose dumb wish is not miss*d 

If birth proceeds, if things subsist; 



so THE ENGLISH POETS 

The life of plants, and stones, and rain, 
The life he craves — if not in vain 
Fate gave, what chance shall not control, 
His sad lucidity of soul. 



[From Sohrab and Rustuin\ 

He spoke; and as he ceased, he wept aloud. 
Thinking of her he left, and his own death. 
He spoke; but Rustum listened, plunged in thought. 
Nor did he yet believe it was his son 
Who spoke, although he called back names he knew; 
For he had had sure tidings that the babe, 
Which was in Ader-baijan bom to him. 
Had been a puny girl, no boy at all — 
So that sad mother sent him word, for fear 
Rustum should seek the boy, to train in arms — 
And so he deemed that either Sohrab took, 
By a false boast, the style of Rustum's son; 
Or that men gave it him, to swell his fame. 
So deem'd he; yet he listened, plunged in thought 
And his soul set to grief, as the vast tide 
Of the bright rocking Ocean sets to shore 
At the full moon; tears gathered in his eyes; 
For he remember'd his own early youth. 
And all its boimding rapture; as, at dawn, 
The shepherd from his n^ountain-lodge descries 
A far, bright city, smitten by the sun. 
Through many rolling clouds — so Rustum saw 
His youth; saw Sohrab 's mother, in her bloom; 
And that old king, her father, who loved well 
His wandering guest, and gave him his fair child 
With joy; and all the pleasant life they led. 
They three, in that long-distant summer-time — 
The castle, and the dewy woods, arid hunt 
And hound, and mom on those delightful hills 
In Ader-baijan. And he saw that Youth, 
Of age and looks to be his own dear son. 
Piteous and lovely, lying on the sand, 



MATTHEW ARNOLD 51 

Like some rich hyacinth which by the scythe 
Of an unskilful gardener has been cut, 
Mowing the garden grass-plots near its bed, 
And lies, a fragrant tower of purple bloom, 
On the mown, dying grass-— so Sohrab lay. 
Lovely in death, upon the common sand. 
And Rustum gazed on him with grief, and said: — 

''O Sohrab, thou indeed art such a son 
Whom Rustum, wert thou his, might well have loved. 
Yet here thou errest, Sohrab, or else men 
Have told thee false— thou art not Rustum's son. 
For Rustum had no son; one child he had — 
But one — a girl; who with her mother now 
Plies some light finale task, nor dreams of us — 
Of us she dreams not, nor of wounds, nor war." 

But Sohrab answer'd him in wrath; for now 
The anguish of the deep-fix'd spear grew fierce. 
And he desired to draw forth the steel. 
And let the blood flow free, and so to die — 
But first he would convince his stubborn foe; 
And, rising sternly on one arm, he said: — 

"Man, who art thou who dost deny my words? 
Truth sits upon the lips of dying men, 
And falsehood, while I lived, was far from mine. 
I tell thee, pricked upon this arm I bear 
That seal which Rustum to my mother gave. 
That she might prick it on the babe she bore." 

He spoke; and all the blood left Rustum's cheeks. 
And his knees totter'd, and he smote his hand 
Against his breast, his heavy mailed hand. 
That the hard iron corslet clank'd aloud; 
And to his heart he press'd the other hand. 
And in a hollow voice he spake, and said: — 

"Sohrab, that were a proof which could not lie! 
If thou show this, then art thou Rustum's son." 

Then, with weak hasty fingers, Sohrab loosed 
His belt, and near the shoulder bared his arm, 
And showed a sign in faint vermilion points 
Prick'd; as a cunning workman, in Pekin, 
Pricks with vermilion some clear porcelain vase, 
An emperor's gift — at early mom he paints. 



52 THE ENGLISH POETS 

And all day long, and, when night comes, the lamp 

Lights up his studious forehead and thin hands — 

So delicately prick'd the sign appeared 

On Sohrab's arm, the sign of Rustum's seal. 

It was that griffin, which of old reared Zal, 

Rustum's great father, whom they left to die, 

A helpless babe, among the mountain-rocks; 

Him that kind creature found, and reared, and loved — 

Then Rustum took it for his glorious sign. 

And Sohrab bared that image on his arm. 

And himself scann'd it long with mournful eyes, 

And then he touched it with his hand and said: — 

"How say'st thou? Is that sign the proper sign 
Of Rustum 's son, or of some other man's?" 

He spoke; but Rustum gazed, and gazed, and stood 
Speechless; and then he utter'd one sharp cry: 

hoy — thy father! — ^and his voice choked there. 
And then a dark cloud pass'd before his eyes. 
And his head swam, and he sank down to earth. 
But Sohrab crawPd to where he lay, and cast 
His arms about his neck, and kiss'd his lips. 

And with fond faltering fingers stroked his cheeks, 
Trying to call him back to life; and life 
Came back to Rustum, and he oped his eyes. 
And they stood wide with horror; and he seized 
In both his hands the dust which lay around, 
And threw it on his head, and smirched his hair, — 
His hair, and face, and beard, and glittering arms; 
And strong convulsive groanings shook his breast. 
And his sobs choked him; and he clutch'd his sword. 
To draw it, and for ever let life out. 
But Sohrab saw his thought, and held his hands. 
And with a soothing voice he spake, and said: — 

"Father, forbear! for I but meet to-day 
The doom which at my birth was written down 
In Heaven, and thou art Heaven's unconscious hand. 
Surely my heart cried out that it was thou. 
When first I saw thee; and thy heart spoke too, 

1 know it! but fate trod those promptings down 
Under its iron heel; fate, fate engaged 

, The strife, and hurPd me on my father's spear. 



MATTHEW ARNOLD S3 

But let us speak no more of this! I find 
My father; let me feel that I have found! 
Come, sit beside me on this sand, and take 
My head betwixt thy hands, and kiss my cheeks, 
And wash them with thy tears, and say: My son! 
Quick! quick! for numbered are my sands of life, 
And swift; for like the lightning to this field 
I came, and like the wind I go away — 
Sudden, and swift, and like a passing wind. 
But it was writ in Heaven that this should be." 

So said he, and his voice released the heart 
Of Rustum, and his tears broke forth; he cast 
His arms round his son's neck, and wept aloud, 
And kiss'd him. And awe fell on both the hosts, 
When they saw Rustum's grief; and Ruksh, the horse. 
With his head bowing to the ground and mane 
Sweeping the dust, came near, and in mute woe 
First to the one then to the other moved 
His head, as if inquiring what their grief 
Might mean; and from his dark, compassionate eyes. 
The big warm tears rolFd down, and caked the sand, 
But Rustum chid him with stem voice, and said: — 

"Ruksh, now thou grievest; but, O Ruksh, thy feet 
Should first have rotted on their nimble joints. 
Or ere they brought thy master to this field! " 

But Sohrab looked upon the horse and said: — 
"Is this, then, Ruksh? How often, in past days. 
My mother told me of thee, thou brave steed. 
My terrible father's terrible horse! and said. 
That I should one day find thy lord and thee. 
Come, let me lay my hand upon thy mane! 
O Ruksh, thou art more fortunate than I; 
For thou hast gone where I shall never go. 
And snuff 'd the breezes of my father's home. 
And thou hast trod the sands of Seistan, 
And seen the River of Helmund, and the Lake 
Of Zirrah; and the aged Zal himself 
Has often stroked thy neck, and given thee food, 
Com in a golden platter soak'd with wine, 
And said: O Ruksh! hear Rustum well! — ^but I 
Have never known my grandsire's furrow'd face, 



54 THE ENGUSH POETS 

Nor seen his lofty house in Seistan, 

Nor slaked my thirst at the clear Helmund stream; 

But lodged among my father's foes, and seen 

Afrasiab's cities only, Samarcand, 

Bokhara, and lone Khiva in the waste. 

And the black Toorkmun tents; and only drunk 

The desert rivers, Moorghab and Tejend, 

Kohik, and where the Kalmuks feed their sheep, 

The northern Sir; and this great Oxus stream, 

The yellow Oxus, by whose brink I die." 

Then, with a heavy groan, Rustum bewail'd: — 
"Oh, that its waves were flowing over me! 
Oh, that I saw its grains of yellow silt 
Roll tumbling in the current o'er my head!" 

But, with a grave mild voice, Sohrab replied: — 
"Desire not that, my father! thou must live. 
For some are born to do great deeds, and live. 
As some are bom to be obscured, and die. 
Do thou the deeds I die too young to do, 
And reap a second glory in thine age; 
Thou art my father, and thy gain is mine. 
But come! thou seest this great host of men 
Which follow me; I pray thee, slay not these! 
Let me entreat for them; what have they done? 
They followed me, my hope, my fame, my star. 
Let them all cross the Oxus back in peace. 
But me thou must bear hence, not send with them. 
But carry me with thee to Seistan, 
And place me on a bed, and mourn for me. 
Thou and the snow-hair*d Zal, and all thy friends. 
And thou must lay me in that lovely earth. 
And heap a stately mound above my bones. 
And plant a far-seen pillar over all. 
That so the passing horseman on the waste 
May see my tomb a great way off, and cry: 
Sohrabj the mighty Rustum's son, lies there, 
Whom his great father did in ignorance kill! 
And I be not forgotten in my grave." 

And, with a mournful voice, Rustum replied: — 
"Fear not! as thou hast said, Sohrab, my son. 
So shall it be; for I will burn my tents, 



MATTHEW ARNOLD 55 



And quit the host, and bear thee hence with me, 

And carry thee away to Seistan, 

And place thee on a bed, and mourn for thee, 

With the snow-headed Zal, and all my friends. 

And I will lay thee in that lovely earth, 

And heap a stately mound above thy bones, 

And plant a far-seen pillar over all, 

And men shall not forget thee in thy grave. 

And I will spare thy host; yea, let them go! 

Let them all cross the Oxus back in peace! 

What should I do with slaying any more? 

For would that all that I have ever slain 

Might be once mofe alive; my bitterest foes, 

And they who were call'd champions in their time, 

And through whose death I won that fame I have— 

And I were nothing but a common man, 

A poor, mean soldier, and without renown. 

So thou mightest live too, my son, my son! 

Or rather would that I, even I myself. 

Might now be lying on this bloody sand, 

Near death, and by an ignorant stroke of thine, 

Not thou of mine! and I might die, not thou; 

And I, not thou, be borne to Seistan; 

And Zal might weep above my grave, not thine; 

And say: O son, I weep thee not too sore. 

For willingly, I know, thou mefst thine end! 

But now in blood and battles was my youth, 

And full of blood and battles is my age. 

And I shall never end this life of blood." 

Then, at the point of death, Sohrab replied: — 
"A life of blood indeed, thou dreadful man! 
But thou shalt yet have peace; only not now, 
Not yet! but thou shalt have it on that day. 
When thou shalt sail in a high-masted ship. 
Thou and the other peers of Kai Khosroo, 
Returning home over the salt blue sea. 
From lajdng thy dear master in his grave." 

And Rustum gazed in Sohrab 's face, and said: — 
"Soon be that day, my son, and deep that sea! 
TDl then, if fate so wiUs, let me endure." 

He spoke; and Sohrab smiled on him, and took 



56 THE ENGLISH POETS 

The spear, and drew it from his side, and eased 

His wound's imperious anguish; but the blood 

Came welling from the open gash, and life 

Flow'd with the stream ; — ^all down his cold white side 

The crimson torrent ran, dim now and soiled. 

Like the soiled tissue of white violets 

Left, freshly gathered, on their native bank. 

By children whom their nurses call with haste 

Indoors from the sun's eye; his head droop'd low. 

His limbs grew slack; motionless, white, he lay — 

White, with eyes closed; only when heavy gasps, 

Deep heavy gasps quivering through all his frame. 

Convulsed him back to life, he opened them. 

And fix'd them feebly on his father's face; 

Till now all strength was ebb'd, and from his limbs 

UnwiUingly the spirit fled away. 

Regretting the warm mansion which it left, 

And youth, and bloom, and this delightful world. 

So, on the bloody sand, Sohrab lay dead; 
And the great Rustum drew his horseman's cloak 
Down o'er his face, and sate by his dead son. 
As those black granite pillars, once high-rear'd 
By Jemshid in Persepolis, to bear 
His house, now 'mid their broken flights of steps 
Lie prone, enormous, down the mountain side — 
So in the sand lay Rustum by his son. 

And night came down over the solemn waste. 
And the two gazing hosts, and that sole pair, 
And darken 'd all ; and a cold fog, with night. 
Crept from the Oxus. Soon a hum arose. 
As of a great assembly loosed, and fires 
Began to twinkle through the fog; for now 
Both armies moved to camp, and took their meal; 
The Persians took it on the open sands 
Southward, the Tartars by the river marge; 
And Rustum and his son were left alone. 

But the majestic river floated on, 
Out of the mist and hum of that low land. 
Into the frosty starlight, and there moved. 
Rejoicing, through the hush'd Chorasmian waste, 
Under the solitary moon; — ^he fiow'd 



MATTHEW ARNOLD 57 

Right for the polar star, past Orgunje, 

Brimming, and bright, and large; then sands begin 

To hem his watery march, and dam his streams. 

And split his currents; that for many a league 

The shorn and parcelled Oxus strains along 

Through beds of sand and matted rushy isles — 

Oxus, forgetting the bright speed he had 

In his high mountain-cradle in Pamere, 

A foil'd circuitous wanderer — till at last 

The long*d-for dash of waves is heard, and wide 

His luminous home of waters opens, bright 

And tranquil, from whose floor the new-bathed stars 

Emerge, and shine upon the Aral Sea. 



The Forsaken Merman 

Come, dear children, let us away; 
Down and away below! 
Now my brothers call from the bay. 
Now the great winds shoreward blow, 
Now the salt tides seaward flow; 
Now the wild white horses play. 
Champ and chafe and toss in the spray. 
Children dear, let us away! 
This way, this way! 

Call her once before you go — 

Call once yet! 

In a voice that she will know: 

"Margaret! Margaret!" 

Children's voices should be dear 

(Call once more) to a mother's ear, 

Children's voices, wild with pain — 

Surely she will come again! 

Call her once and come away; 

This way, this way! 

"Mother dear, we cannot stay! 



S8 THE ENGLISH POETS 

The wild white horses foam and fret." 
Margaret! Margaret! 

Come, dear children, come away down; 

Call no more! 

One last look at the white-waird town, 

And the little grey church on the windy shore; 

Then come down! 

She will not come though you call all day; 

Come away, come away! 

Children dear, was it yesterday 
We heard the sweet bells over the bay? 
In the caverns where we lay. 
Through the surf and through the swell, 
The far-off sound of a silver bell? 
Sand-strewn caverns, cool and deep. 
Where the winds are all asleep; 
Where the spent lights quiver and gleam. 
Where the salt weed sways in the stream, 
Where the sea-beasts, ranged all round. 
Feed in the ooze of their pasture-ground; 
Where the sea-snakes coil and twine. 
Dry their mail and bask in the brine; 
Where great whales come sailing by, 
Sail and sail, with unshut eye. 
Round the world for ever and aye? 
When did music come this way? 
Children dear, was it yesterday? 

Children dear, was it yesterday 

(Call yet once) that she went away? 

Once she sate with you and me, 

On a red gold throne in the heart of the sea, 

And the youngest sate, on her knee. 

She comb'd its bright hair, and she tended it well. 

When down swung the sound of a far-off bell. 

She sigh'd, she look'd up through the clear green sea; 

She said: "I must go, for my kinsfolk pray 

In the little grey church on the shore to-day. 



MATTHEW ARNOLD Sg 

'Twill be Easter- time in the world — ah me! 

And I lose my poor soul, Merman! here with thee." 

I said: "Go up, dear heart, through the waves; 

Say thy prayer, and come back to the kind sea-caves!" 

She smiled, she went up through the surf in the bay. 

Children dear, was it yesterday? 

Children dear, were we long alone? 
"The sea grows stormy, the little ones moan; 
Long prayers," I said, "in the world they say; 
Come!" I said; and we rose through the surf in the bay. 
We went up the beach, by the sandy down 
Where the sea-stocks bloom, to the white-wall 'd town; 
Through the narrow paved streets, where all was still. 
To the littie grey church on the windy hill. 
From the church came a murmur of folk at their prayers, 
But we stood without in the cold blowing airs. 
We climb'd on the graves, on the stones worn with rains. 
And we gazed up the aisle through the small leaded panes. 
She sate by the pillar; we saw her clear: 
"Margaret, hist! come quick, we are here! 
Dear heart," I said, "we are long alone; 
The sea grows stormy, the little ones moan." 
But, ah, she gave me never a look, 
For her eyes were seal'd to the holy book! 
Loud prays the priest; shut stands the door. 
Come away, children, call no more! 
Come away, come down, call no morel 

Down, down, down! 
Down to the depths of the sea! 
She sits at her wheel in the hunmiing town, 
Singing most joyfully. 
Hark what she sings: "O joy, O joy. 
For the himmiing street, and the child with its toy! 
For the priest, and the bell, and the holy well; 
For the wheel where I spun, 
And the blessed Ijght of the sun!" 
And so she sings her fill. 
Singing most joyfully. 
Till the spindle drops from her hand. 



6o THE ENGLISH POETS 

And the whizzing wheel stands still. 

She steals to the window, and looks at the sand, 

And over the sand at the sea; 

And her eyes are set in a stare; 

And anon there breaks a sigh, 

And anon there drops a tear. 

From a sorrow-clouded eye, 

And a heart sorrow-laden, 

A long, long sigh; 

For the cold strange eyes of a little Mermaiden 

And the gleam of her golden hair. 

Come away, away children; 
Come children, come down! 
The hoarse wind blows coldly; 
Lights shine in the town. 
She will start from her slumber 
When guests shake the door; 
She will hear the winds howling, 
Will hear the waves roar. 
We shall see, while above us 
The waves roar and whirl, 
A ceiUng of amber, 
A pavement of pearl. 
Singing: "Here came a mortal, 
But faithless was she! 
And alone dwell for ever 
The kings of the sea." 

But, children, at midnight, 
When soft the winds blow. 
When clear falls the 'moonlight, 
When spring- tides are low; 
When sweet airs come seaward 
From heaths starred with broom, 
And high rocks throw mildly 
On the blanch 'd sands a gloom; 
Up the still, glistening beaches, 
Up the creeks we will hie, 
Over banks of bright seaweed 
The ebb-tide leaves dry. 



MATTHEW ARNOLD 6i 

We will gaze from the sand-hills, 
At the white, sleeping town; 
At the church on the hill-side — 
And then come back down. 
Singing: "There dwells a loved one 
But cruel is she! 
She left lonely for ever 
The kings of the sea." 



Austerity of Poetry 

That son of Italy who tried to blow,* 
Ere Dante came, the trump of sacred song. 
In his light youth amid a festal throng 
Sate with his bride to see a public show. 

Fair was the bride, and on her front did glow 
Youth like a star; and what to youth belong — 
Gay raiment, sparkling gauds, elation strong. 
A prop gave way! crash fell a platform! lo, 

'Mid struggling sufferers, hurt to death, she lay! 
Shuddering, they drew her garments off — and found 
A robe of sackcloth next the smooth, white skin. 

Such, poets, is your bride, the Muse! young, gay, 
Radiant, adorn'd outside; a hidden groimd 
Of thought and of austerity within. 



To Marguerite 

Yes! in the sea of life enisled. 

With echoing straits between us thrown, 

Dotting the shoreless watery wild. 

We mortal millions live cUone. 

The islands feel the enclasping flow. 

And then their endless bounds they know. 

* Giacopone di Todi. 



^ 



62 THE ENGLISH POETS 

But when the moon their hollows lights, 
And they are swept by balms of spring, 
And in their glens, on starry nights, 
The nightingales divinely sing; 
And lovely notes, from shore to shore, 
Across the sounds and channels pour — 

Oh! then a longing like despair 

Is to their farthest caverns sent; 

For surely once, they feel, we were 

Parts of a single continent! 

Now round us spreads the watery plain— 

Oh might our marges meet again! 

Who ordered, that their longing's fire 
Should be, as soon as kindled, cool'd? 
Who renders Vain their deep desire? — 
A God, a God their severance ruled! 
And bade betwixt their shores to be 
The unplumb'd, salt, estranging sea. 



The Strayed Reveller 

ihe portico of circe^s palace. evening 

A Youth, Circe 

The Youth 

Faster, faster, 

O Circe, Goddess, 

Let the wild, thronging train, 

The bright procession 

Of eddjdng forms, 

Sweep through my soul! 

Thou standest, smiling 
Down on me! thy right arm. 
Leaned up against the coliunn there. 



MATTHEW ARNOLD 63 

Props thy soft cheek; 
Thy left holds, hanging loosely, 
The deep cup, ivy-cinctured, 
I held but now. 

Is it, then, evening 
So soon? I see the night-dews. 
Clustered in thick beads, dim 
The agate brooch-stones 
On thy white shoulder; 
The cool night-wind, too, 
Blows through the portico, 
Stirs thy hair. Goddess, 
Waves thy white robe! 

Circe 
Whence art thou, sleeper? 

The Youth 

When the white dawn first 

Through the rough fir-planks 

Of my hut, by the chestnuts. 

Up at the valley-head, 

Came breaking, Goddess! 

I sprang up, I threw round me 

My dappled fawn-skin; 

Passing out, from the wet turf, 

Where they lay, by the hut door, 

I snatched up my vine-crown, my fir-staff, 

All drenched in dew — 

Came swift down to join 

The rout early gathered 

In the town, round the temple, 

lacchus' white fane 

On yonder hill. 

Quick I passed, following 
The wood-cutters' cart-track 
Down the dark valley; — ^I saw 



64 THE ENGLISH POETS 

On my left, through the beeches, 

Thy palace. Goddess, 

Smokeless, empty! 

Trembling, I entered; beheld 

The court all silent. 

The lions sleeping, 

On the altar this bowl. 

I drank. Goddess! 

And sank down here, sleeping. 

On the steps of thy portico. 

Circe 

Foolish boy! Why tremblest thou? 
Thou lovest it, then, my wine? 
Wouldst more of it? See, how glows. 
Through the delicate, flushed marble. 
The red, creaming liquor, 
Strown with dark seeds! 
Drink, then! I chide thee not. 
Deny thee not my bowl. 
Come, stretch forth thy hand, then — so! 
Drink — drink again! 

The Youth 

Thanks, gracious one! 
Ah, the sweet fumes again! 
More soft, ah me, 
More subtle-winding 
Than Pan's flute-music! 
Faint — faint! Ah me. 
Again the sweet sleep! 

Circe 

Hist! Thou— within there! 
Come forth, Ulysses! 
Art tired with hunting? 
While we range the woodland. 
See what the day brings. 



MATTHEW ARNOLD 65 



Ulysses 
Ever new magic! 
Hast thou then lured hither, 
Wonderful Goddess, by thy art, 
The young, languid-eyed Ampelus, 
lacchus' darling — 
Or some youth beloved of Pan, 
Of Pan and the Nymphs? 
That he sits, bending downward 
His white, delicate neck 
To the ivy-wreathed marge 
Of thy cup; the bright, glancing vine-leaves 
That crown his hair, 
Falling forward, mingling 
With the dark ivy-plants — 
His fawn-skin, half untied, 
Smear'd with red wine-stains? Who is he, 
That he sits, overweigh'd 
By fumes of wine and sleep. 
So late, in thy portico? 
What youth. Goddess, — ^what guest 
Of Gods or mortals? 

Circe 

Hist! he wakes! 

I lured him not hither, Ulysses. 

Nay, ask him! 

The Youth 

Who speaks? Ah, who comes forth 

To thy side. Goddess, from within? 

How shall I name him? 

This spare, dark-featured, 

Quick-eyed stranger? 

Ah, and I see too 

His sailor's bonnet, 

His short coat, travel-tarnish 'd. 

With one arm bare! — 

Art thou not he, whom fame 



66 THE ENGLISH POETS 

This long time riunours 

The favour'd guest of Circe, brought by the waves? 

Art thou he, stranger? 

The wise Ulysses, 

Laertes' son? 



Ulysses 

I am Ulysses. 

And thou, too, sleeper? 

Thy voice is sweet. 

It may be thou hast followed 

Through the islands some divine bard, 

By age taught many things, 

Age and the Muses; 

And heard him delighting 

The chiefs and people 

In the banquet, and leam'd his songs, 

Of Gods and Heroes, 

Of war and arts, 

And peopled cities. 

Inland, or built 

By the grey sea. — ^If so, then hail! 

I honour and welcome thee. 

The Youth 

The Gods are happy. 
They turn on aU sides 
Their shining eyes. 
And see below them 
The earth and men. 

They see Tiresias 
Sitting, staff in hand, 
On the warm, grassy 
Asopus bank, 
His robe drawn over 
His old, sightless head, 
Revolving inly 
The doom of Thebes. 



MA TTHEW ARNOLD 67 

They see the Centaurs 
In the upper glens 
Of Pelion, in the streams, 
Where red-berried ashes fringe 
The dear-brown shallow pools, 
With streaming flanks, and heads 
Rear'd proudly, snuffing 
The mountain wind. 

They see the Indian 
Drifting, knife in hand, 
His frail boat moor'd to 
A floating isle thick-matted 
With large-leaved, low-creeping melon-plants. 
And the dark cucumber. 
• He reaps, and stows them, 
Drifting— drifting; — round him, 
Roimd his green harvest-plot. 
Flow the cool lake-waves. 
The mountains ring them. 

They see the Scythian 

On the wide stepp, imhamessing 

His wheeFd house at noon. 

He tethers his beast down, and makes his meal — 

Mares' milk, and bread 

Baked on the embers; — all around 

The boimdless, waving grass-plains stretch, thick-starr'd 

With saffron and the yellow hollyhock 

And flag-leaved iris-flowers. 

Sitting in his cart 

He makes his meal; before him, for long miles, 

Alive with bright green lizards, 

And the springing bustard-fowl, 

The track, a straight black line. 

Furrows the rich soil; here and there 

Clusters of lonely moimds 

Topp'd with rough-hewn, 

Grey, rain-blear'd statues, overpeer 

The sunny waste. 



08 THE ENGLISH POETS 

They see the ferry 

On the broad, clay-laden 

Lone Chorasmian stream; — ^thereon, 

With snort and strain, 

Two horses, strongly swimming, tow 

The ferry-boat, with woven ropes 

To either bow 

Firm hamess'd by the mane; a chief, 

With shout and shaken spear. 

Stands at the prow, and guides them; but astern 

The cowering merchants, in long robes, 

Sit pale beside their weal 

Of silk-bales and of balsam-drops, 

Of gold and ivory. 

Of turquoise-earth and amethyst, 

Jasper and chalcedony, 

And milk-barr'd onyx-stones. 

The loaded boat swings groaning 

In the yellow eddies; 

The Gods behold them. 

They see the Heroes 

Sitting in the dark ship 

On the foamless, long-heaving 

Violet sea. 

At sunset nearing 

The Happy Islands. 

These things, Ulysses, 
The wise bards also 
Behold and sing. 
But oh, what labour! 
O prince, what pain! 

They too can see 
Tiresias; — ^but the Gods, 
Who give them vision. 
Added this law: 
That they should bear too 
His groping blindness, 
His dark foreboding, 
His scorn 'd white hairs; 



MATTHEW ARNOLD 69 

Bear Hera's anger 
Through a life lengthened 
To seven ages. 

They see the Centaurs 

On Pelion; — then they feel, 

They too, the maddening wine 

Swell their large veins to bursting; in wild pain 

They feel the biting spears 

Of the grim Lapithae, and Theseus, drive, 

Drive crashing through their bones; they feel 

High on a jutting rock in the red stream 

Alcmena's dreadful son 

Ply his bow; — such a price 

The Gods exact for song: 

To become what we sing. 

They see the Indian 

On his mountain lake; but squalls 

Make their skiff reel, and worms 

In the unkind spring have gnawn 

Their melon-harvest to the heart. — ^They see 

The Scythian; but long frosts 

Parch them in winter-time on the bare stepp, 

Till they too fade like grass; they crawl 

Like shadows forth in spring. 

They see the merchants 

On the Oxus stream; — ^but care 

Must visit first them too, and make them pale. 

Whether, through whirling sand, 

A doud of desert robber-horse have burst 

Upon their caravan; or greedy kings, 

In the wall'd cities the way passes through, 

Crush'd them with tolls; or fever-airs. 

On some great river's marge, 

Mown them down, far from home. 

They see the Heroes 

Near harbour; — ^but they share 

Their lives, and former violent toil in Thebes, 



70 THE ENGLISH POETS 

Seven-gated Thebes, or Troy; 
Or where the echoing oars 
Of Argo first 
Startled the unknown sea. 

The old Silenus 

Came, lolling in the sunshine, 

From the dewy forest-coverts 

This way, at noon. 

Sitting by me, while his Fauns 

Down at the water-side 

Sprinkled and smoothed 

His drooping garland, 

He told me these things. 

But I, Ulysses, 
Sitting on the wann steps, 
Looking over the valley. 
All day long, have seen. 
Without pain, without labour. 
Sometimes a wild-hair'd Maenad — 
Sometimes a Faun with torches — 
And sometimes, for a moment. 
Passing through the dark stems 
Flowing-robed, the beloved, 
The desired, the divine, 
Beloved lacchus. 

Ah, cool night-wind, tremulous stars! 

Ah, glimmering water, 

Fitful earth-murmur. 

Dreaming woods! 

Ah, golden-hair'd, strangely smiling Goddess, 

And thou, proved, much enduring. 

Wave-toss 'd Wanderer! 

Who can stand still? 

Ye fade, ye swim, ye waver before me — 

The cup again! 

Faster, faster, 
O Circe, Goddess, 



MATTHEW ARNOLD 71 

Let the wild, thronging train, 
The bright procession 
Of eddying forms, 
Sweep through my soul! 



Calucles' Song 

\?TomEmpedodesonEtf^\ ^,. 

Through (dfl^lack, rushing smoke-bursts. 

Thick breaks the red flame; 

All EtgioJieSives fiercely 

Her forest-clothed frame. . 

Not here, O Apollo ! '^ 

Are haunts meei ilor thee. 
But, where Helicon breaks down 
In diff to the sea, 

Where the moon-silver'd inlets 
Send far their light voice 
Up the still vale of T^isbe, 
O speed, andTfejQJce! 

On the sward at the diff-top 
Lie strewn the white flocks, 
On the cliflPiide the pigeons 
Roost deep in the rocks. 

In the moonlight the shepherds. 
Soft luU'd by the rills, 
Lie wrapt in their blankets 
Asleep on the hills. 

— ^What fonns are these coming 
So white through the gloom? 
What garments out-glistening 
The gold-flower*d broom? 



72 THE ENGLISH POETS 

What sweet-breathing presence 
Out-perfumes the thyme? 
What voices enrapture 
The night's bahny prime? — 

'Tis Apollo comes leading A. 
His choir, the Nine. ^ 
— The leader is fairest, o 
But all are divine. ^ 

They are lost in the hollows! 
They stream up again! 
What seeks on this mountain 
The glorified train? — 

They bathe on this mountain, 
In the spring by their road; 
Then on to Olympus, 
Their endless abode. 

— ^Whose praise do they mention? 
Of what is it told? — 
What will be for ever; 
What was from of old. 

First hymn they the Father 
Of all things; and then, 
The rest of immortals, 
The action of men. 

The day in his hotness 
The strife with the palm; 
The night in her silence, 
The stars in their calm. 



MATTHEW ARNOLD 73 

Dover Beach 

The sea is calm to-night. 

The tide is full, the moon lies fair 

Upon the straits; — on the French coast the light 

Gleams and is gone; the cliflfs of England stand, 

Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay. 

Come to the window, sweet is the night-air! 

Only, from the long line of spray 

Where the sea meets the moon-blanch'd land, 

Lbten! you hear the grating roar 

Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling, 

At their return, up the high strand. 

Begin, and cease, and then again begin, 

With tremulous cadence slow, and bring 

The eternal note of sadness in. 

Sophocles long ago 

flearSTt on the jEgaean, and it brought 

Into his mind tKe turtid ebb and flow 

Of human misery; we 

Find also in the sound a thought, 

Hearing it by this distant northern sea. 

The Sea of Faith 

Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore 

Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furl'd! 

But now I only hear 

Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar. 

Retreating, to the breath 

Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear 

And naked shingles of the world. 

Ah, love, let us be true 

To one another! for the world, which seems 

To lie before us like a land of dreams. 

So various, so beautiful, so new. 

Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light. 

Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain; 

And we are here as on a darkling plain 

Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight, 

Where ignorant armies clash by night. 



74 THE ENGLISH POETS 



Palladium 

Set where the upper streams of Simois flow 
Was the Palladium, high 'mid rock and wood; 
And Hector was in Ilium, far below, 
And fought, and saw it not — but there it stood! 

It stood, and sun and moonshine rained their light 
On the pure columns of its glen-built hall. 
Backward and forward rolled the waves of fight 
Round Troy — but while this stood, Troy could not fall. 

So, in its lovely moonlight, lives the soul. 
Mountains surround it, and sweet virgin air; 
Cold plashing, past it, crystal waters roll; 
We visit it by moments, ah, too rare! 

We shall renew the battle in the plain 
To-morrow; — red with blood will Xanthus be; 
Hector and Ajax will be there again, 
Helen will come upon the wall to see. 

^Then we shall rust in shade, or shine in strife, 
f f\nd fluctuate 'twixt blind hopes and blind despairs. 
And fancy that we put forth all our life. 
And never know how with the soul it fares. 

Still doth the soul, from its lone fastness high 
Upon our life a ruling effluence send. 
And when it fails, fight as we will, we die; 
And while it lasts, we cannot wholly end. 



Morality 

We cannot kindle when we will 

The fire which in the heart resides; * 

The spirit bloweth and is still. 

In mystery our soul abides. 
But tasks in hours of insight willed 
Can be through hours of gloom fulfilled. 



MATTHEW ARNOLD 75 

With aching hands and bleeding feet 
We dig and heap, lay stone on stone; 
We bear the burden and the heat 
Of the long day, and wish 'twere done. 

Not till the hours of light return 

All we have built do we discern. 

Then, when the douds are off the soul, 

When thou dost bask in Nature's eye, 

Ask, how she view'd thy self-control. 

Thy struggling, task'd morality — 
Nature, whose free, light, cheerful air. 
Oft made thee, in thy gloom, despair. 

And she, whose censure thou dost dread, 
Whose eye thou wast afraid to seek, 
See, on her face a glow is spread, 
A strong emotion on her cheek! 

"Ah, child!" she cries, "that strife divine, 

Whence was it, for it is not mine? 

"There is no effort on my brow — 
I do not strive, I do not weep; 
I rush with the swift spheres and glow 
In joy, and when I will, I sleep. 

Yet that severe, that earnest air, 

I saw, I felt it once — ^but where? 

"I knew not yet the gauge of time, 
Nor wore the manacles of space; 
I felt it in some other clime, 
I saw it in some other place. 

'Twas when the heavenly house 1 trod. 

And lay upon the breast of God." 



76 THE ENGLISH POETS 



Memorial Verses 
April, 1850 

Goethe in Weimar sleeps, and Greece, 
Long since, saw Byron's struggle cease. 
But one such death remained to come; 
The last poetic voice is dumb — 
We stand to-day by Wordsworth's tomb. 

When Byron's eyes were shut in death, 
We bow'd our head and held our breath. 
He taught us little; but our soul 
Had felt him like the thunder's roll. 
With shivering heart the strife we saw 
Of passion with eternal law; 
And yet with reverential awe 
We watch'd the fount of fiery life 
Which served for that Titantic strife. 

When Goethe's death was told, we said: 

Sunk, then, is Europe's sagest head. 

Physician of the iron age, 

Goethe has done his pilgrimage. 

He took the suffering human race, 

He read each wound, each weakness clear; 

And struck his finger on the place. 

And said: Thou ailest here, and here! 

He look'd on Europe's dying hour 

Of fitful dream and feverish power; 

His eye plunged down the weltering strife, 

The turmoil of expiring life — 

He said: The end is everywhere. 
Art still has truth, take refuge there! 
And he was happy, if to know 
Causes of things, and far below 
His feet to see the lurid flow 



MATTHEW ARNOLD 77 

Of terror, and insane distress, 
And headlong fate, be happiness. 

And Wordsworth!— Ah, pale ghosts, rejoice! 
For never has such soothing voice 
Been to your shadowy world convey 'd. 
Since erst, at morn, some wandering shade 
Heard the clear song of Orpheus come 
Through Hades, and the mournful gloom. 
Wordsworth has gone from us — ^and ye. 
Ah, may ye feel his voice as we! 
He too upon a wintry clime 
Had fallen — on this iron time 
Of doubts, disputes, distractions, fears. 
He found us when the age had bound 
Our souls in its benumbing round ; 
He spoke, and loosed our heart in tears. 
He laid us as we lay at birth 
On the cool flowery lap of earth, 
Smiles broke from us and we had ease; 
The hills were round us, and the breeze 
Went o'er the sun-lit fields again; 
Our foreheads felt the wind and rain. 
Our youth returned; for there was shed 
On spirits that had long been dead, 
Spirits dried up and closely furPd, 
The freshness of the early world. 

Ah! since dark days still bring to light 
Man's prudence and man's fiery might. 
Time may restore us in his course 
Goethe's sage mind and Byron's force; 
But where will Europe's latter hour 
Again find Wordsworth's healing power? 
Others will teach us how to dare. 
And against fear our breast to steel; 
Others will strengthen us to bear — 
But who, ah ! who, will make us feel? 
The cloud of mortal destiny, 
Others will front it fearlessly — 
But who, like him will put it by? 



78 THE ENGLISH POETS 

Keep fresh the grass upon his grave, 
O Rotha, with thy li\dng wave! 
Sing him thy best! for few or none 
Hears thy voice right, now he is gone. 



Rugby Chapel 
November, 1857 

Coldly, sadly descends 

The autumn-evening. The field 

Strewn with its dank yellow drifts. 

Of withered leaves,~and the elms, 

Fade into dimness apace. 

Silent;— hardly a shout 

From a few boys late at their play! 

The lights come out in the street, 

In the school-room windows — but cold, 

Solemn, unlighted, austere. 

Through the gathering darkness, arise 

The chapel-walls, in whose bound 

Thou, my father! art laid. 

There thou dost lie, in the gloom 

Of the autumn evening. But ah! 

That word, gloomy to my mind 

Brings thee back, in the light 

Of thy radiant vigour, again; 

In the gloom of November we pass'd 

Days not dark at thy side; 

Seasons impaired not the ray 

Of thy buoyant cheerfulness clear. 

Such thou wast! and I stand 

In the autumn evening, and think 

Of bygone autumns with thee. 

Fifteen years have gone round 

Since thou arosest to tread. 

In the summer-morning, the road 



MATTHEW ARNOLD 79 



Of death, at a call unforeseen, 
Sudden. For fifteen years, 
We who till then in thy shade ^ 
Rested as under the boughs ^ 
Of a mighty oak, iiave endured 
Sunshine and rain as we might. 
Bare, unshaded, alone. 
Lacking the shelter of thee. 

O strong soul, by what shore 
Tarriest thou now? For that force. 
Surely, has not been left vain! 
Somewhere, surely, afar. 
In the sounding labour-house vast 
Of being, is practised that strength, 
Zealous, benefiq|Cnt, firm! 

Yes, in some far-shining sphere, 
Conscious or not of the past. 
Still thou performest the word 
Of the Spirit in whom thou dost live 
Prompt, unwearied, as herel 
Still thou upraisest with zeal 
The humble good from the ground. 
Sternly repressest the bad! 
Still, like a trumpet, dost rouse 
Those who with half-open eyes 
Tread the border-land dim 
Twixt vice and virtue; reviv'st, 
Succourest! — this was thy work, 
This was thy life upon earth. 

What is the course of the life 
Of mortal men on the earth? — 
Most men eddy about 
Here and there — eat and drink. 
Chatter and love and hate. 
Gather and squander, are raised 
Aloft, are hurl'd in the dust. 
Striving blindly, achieving 
Nothing; and then they die — 



8o THE ENGLISH POETS 

Perish; — and no one asks 
Who or what they have been, I 

More than he asks what waves, \ 
In the moonlit solitudes mild \ 

Of the midmost Ocean, have swelled, ' 
Foam'd for a moment, and gone. 

And there are some, whom a thirst 
Ardent, imquenchable, fires, 
Not with the crowd to be spent, 
Not without aim to go round 
In an eddy of purposeless dust, 
Effort unmeaning and vain. 
Ah, yes I some of us strive 
Not without action to die 
Fruitless, but something to snatch 
From dull oblivion, nor all 
Glut the devouring grave! 
We, we have chosen our path — 
Path to a clear-purposed goal, 
Path of advance! — ^but it leads 
A long, steep journey, through sunk 
Gorges, o'er mountains in snow. 
Cheerful, with friends, we set forth— 
Then, on the height, comes the storm. 
Thunder crashes from rock 
To rock, the cataracts reply, 
Lightnings dazzle our eyes. 
Roaring torrents have breach'd 
The track, the stream-bed descends 
In the place where the wayfarer once 
Planted his footstep — ^the spray 
Boils o'er its borders! aloft 
The unseen snow-beds dislodge 
Their hanging ruin; alas, 
Havoc is made in our train! 
Friends, who set forth at our side, 
Falter, are lost in the storm. 
We, we only are left ' 
With frowning foreheads, with lips 
Sternly compressed, we strain on, 



MATTHEW ARNOLD 8l 

On — and at nightfall at last / 

Come to the end of our way, 
To the lonely inn 'mid the rocks; 
Where the gaunt and taciturn host 
Stands on the threshold, the wind 
Shaking his thin white hairs- 
Holds his lantern to scan 
Our storm-beat figures, and asks: 
Whom in our party we bring? 
Whom we have left in the snow? 

Sadly we answer: We bring 
Only ourselves! we lost 
Sight of the rest in the storm. 
Hardly ourselves we fought through. 
Stripped, without friends, as we are. 
Friends, companions, and train, 
The avalanche swept from our side. 

But thou would 'st not alone 
Be saved, my father! alone 
Conquer and come to thy goal, 
Leaving the rest in the wild. 
We were weary, and we 
Fearful, and we in our march 
Fain to drop down and to die. 
Still thou turnedst, and still 
Beckonedst the trembler, and still 
Gavest the weary thy hand. 

If, in the paths of the world. 
Stones might have wounded thy feet, 
Toil or dejection have tried 
Thy spirit, of that we saw 
Nothing — ^to us thou wast still 
Cheerful, and helpful, and firm! 
Therefore to thee it was given 
Many to save with thyself; 
And, at the end of thy day, 
O faithful shepherd! to come. 
Bringing thy sheep in thy hand. 



82 THE ENGLISH POETS 

And through thee I believe 
In the noble and great who are gone; 
Pure souk honoured and blest 
By former ages, who else — 
Such, so soulless, so poor, 
Is the race of men whom I see — 
Seem'd but a dream of the heart, 
Seem'd but a cry of desire. 
Yes! I believe that there lived 
Others like thee in the past, 
Not like the men of the crowd 
Who all round me to-day 
Bluster or cringe, and make life 
Hideous, and arid, and vile; 
But souls tempered with fire, 
Fervent, heroic, and good. 
Helpers and friends of mankind. 

Servants of God! — or sons 

Shall I not call you? becauise 

Not as servants ye knew 

Your Father's innermost mind, 

His, who unwillingly sees 

One of his little ones lost — 

Yours is the praise, if mankind 

Hath not as yet in its march 

Fainted, and fallen, and died! 

See! In the rocks of the world 

Marches the host of mankind, 

A feeble, wavering line. 

Where are they tending? — ^A God 

Marshalled them, gave them their goal. 

Ah, but the way is so long! 

Years they have been in the wild! 

Sore thirst plagues them, the rocks. 

Rising all round, overawe; 

Factions divide them, their host 

Threatens to break, to dissolve. 

— Ah, keep, keep them combined! 

Else, of the myriads who fill 

That army, not one shall arrive; 



MATTHEW ARNOLD S$ 

Sole they shall stray; in the rocks 
Stagger for ever in vain, 
Die one by one in the waste. 

Then, in such hour of need 
Of your fainting, dispirited race, 
Ye, like angels, appear. 
Radiant with ardour divine! 
Beacons of hope, ye appear! 
Languor is not in your heart. 
Weakness is not in your word. 
Weariness not on your brow. 
Ye alight in our van! at your voice. 
Panic, de^air, flee away. 
Ye move through the ranks, recall 
The stragglers, refresh the outworn. 
Praise, re-inspire the brave! 
Order, courage, return. 
Eyes rekindling, and prayers. 
Follow your steps as ye go. 
Ye fill up the gaps in our files, 
Strengthen the wavering line, 
Stablish, continue our march. 
On, to the bound of the waste, 
On, to the City of God. 



Thyksis 

A Monody, to commemorate the author* s friend^ 
Arthur Hugh Clough, who died at Florence, 1861. 

How changed is here each spot man makes or fills! 
In the two Hinkseys nothing keeps the same; 

The village-street its haunted mansion lacks. 
And from the sign is gone Sibylla's name. 

And from the roofs the twisted chimney-stacks — 
Are ye too changed, ye hills? 
See, *tis no foot of unfamiliar men 

To-night from Oxford up your pathway strays! 

Here came I often, often, in old dzys — 
Th)n:sis and I; we still had Thyrsis then. 



84 THE ENGLISH POETS 

Runs it not here, the track by Childsworth Farm, 
Past the high wood, to where the elm-tree crowns 

The hill behind whose ridge the sunset flames? 
The signal-elm, that looks on Ilsley Downs, 

The Vale, the three lone weirs, the youthful Thames?- 
This winter-eve is warm. 
Humid the air! leafless, yet soft as spring. 

The tender purple spray on copse and briers! 

And that sweet city with her dreaming spires, 
She needs not June for beauty's heightening. 



Lovely all times she lies, lovely to-night! — 
Only, methinks, some loss of habit's power 

Befalls me wandering through this upland dim. 
Once pass'd I blindfold here, at any hour; 

Now seldom come I, since I came with him. 
That single elm-tree bright 
Against the west — ^I miss it! is it gone? 

We prized it dearly; while it stood, we said, 

Our friend, the Gipsy-Scholar, was not dead; 
While the tree lived, he in these fields lived on. 

Too rare, too rare, grow now my visits here. 

But once I knew each field, each flower, each stick; 

And with the country-folk acquaintance made 
By barn in threshing-time, by new-built rick. 

Here, too, our shepherd-pipes we first assayed. 
Ah me! this many a year 
My pipe is lost, my shepherd's holiday! 

Needs must I lose them, needs with heavy heart 

Into the world and wave of men depart; 
But Thyrsis of his own will went away. 

It irk'd him to be here, he could not rest. 
He loved each simple joy the country yields, 

He loved his mates; but yet he could not keep. 
For that a shadow lour'd on the fields. 
Here with the shepherds and the silly sheep. 
Some life of men unblest 



MATTHEW ARNOLD 85 

He knew, which made him droop, and fill'd his head 
He went; his piping took a troubled SQund 
Of storms that rage outside our happy ground; 

He cotdd not wait their passing, he is dead. . 

So, some tempestuous mom in early June, 
When the year's primal burst of bloom is o'er. 

Before the roses and the longest day — 
When garden-walks and all the grassy floor 

With blossoms red and white of fallen May 
And chestnut-flowers are strewn — 
So have I heard the cuckoo's parting cry, 

From the wet field, through the vext garden-trees. 

Come with the volleying rain and tossing breeze: 
The bloom is gone, and with the bloom go I! 

Too quick despairer, wherefore wilt thou go? 
Soon will the high Midsummer pomps come on. 

Soon will the musk carnations break and swell. 
Soon shall we have gold-dusted snapdragon, 

Sweet- William with his homely cottage-smell, 
And stocks in fragrant blow; 
Roses that down the alleys shine afar, 

And open, jasmine-muffled lattices, 

And groups under the dreaming garden-trees, 
And the full moon, and the white evening-star. 

He hearkens not! light comer, he is flown! 
What matters it? next year he will return. 

And we shall have him in the sweet spring-days. 
With whitening hedges, and uncrumpling fern, 

And blue-bells trembhng by the forest-ways. 
And scent of hay new-mown. 
But Thyrsis never more we swains shall see; 

See him come back, and cut a smoother reed, 

And blow a strain the world at last shall heed — 
For Time, not Corydon, hath conquer 'd thee! 

Alack, for Corydon no rival now! — 
But when Sicilian shepherds lost a mate. 

Some good survivor with his flute would go, 
Piping a ditty sad for Bion's fate; 



86 THE ENGLISH POETS 

And cross the unpermitted ferry's flow, 
And rela:^ Pluto's brow, 

And make leap up with joy the beauteous head 
Of Proserpine, among whose crowned hair 
Are flowers first open'd on Sicilian air, 

And flute his friend, like Orpheus, from the dead. 



O easy access to the hearer's grace 
When Dorian shepherds sang to Proserpine! 

For she herself had trod Sicilian fields, 
She knew the Dorian water's gush divine. 

She knew each lily white which Enna yields. 
Each rose with blushing face; 
She loved the Dorian pipe, the Dorian strain. 

But ah, of our poor Thames she never heard! 

Her foot the Cumner cowslips never stirr'd; 
And we should tease her with our plaint in viain! 



Well! wind-dispersed and vain the words will be. 
Yet, Thyrsis, let me give my grief its hour 

In the old haimt, and find our tree-topp'd hill! 
Who, if not I, for questing here hath power? 

I know the wood which hides the daffodil, 
I know the Fyfield tree, 
I know what white, what purple fritillaries 

The grassy harvest of the river-fields. 

Above by Ensham, down by Sandford, yields. 
And what sedged brooks are Thames's tributaries; 



I know these slopes; who knows them if not I? — 
But many a dingle on the loved hill-side, 

With thorns once studded, old, white-blossom'd trees, 
Where thick the cowslips grew, and far descried 

High tower'd the spikes of purple orchises, 
Hath since our day put by 
The coronals of that forgotten time; 

Down each green bank hath gone the ploughboy's team, 

And only in the hidden brookside gleam 
Primroses, orphans of the flowery prime. 



MATTHEW ARNOLD 87 

Where is the girl, who by the boatman's door, 
Above the locks, above the boating throng, 

Unmoor'd our skiff when through the Wytham flats. 
Red loosestrife and blond meadow-sweet among 

And darting swallows and light water-gnats, 
We track'd the shy Thames shore? 
Where are the mowers, who, as the tiny swell 

Of our boat passing heaved the river-grass, 

Stood with suspended scythe to see us pass? — 
They all are gone, and thou art gone as well! 



Yes, thou art gone! and round me too the night 
In ever-nearing drcle weaves her shade. 

I see her veil draw soft across the day, 
I feel her slowly chilling breath invade 

The cheek grown thin, the brown hair sprent with grey; 
I feel her finger light 
Laid pausefully upon life's headlong train; — 

The foot less prompt to meet the morning dew, 

The heart less bounding at emotion new. 
And hope, once crush'd, less quick to spring again. 

And long the way appears, which seem'd so short 
To the less practised eye of sanguine youth; 

And high the mountain-tops, in cloudy air, 
The mountain-tops where is the throne of Truth, 

Tops in life's morning-sun so bright and bare! 
Unbreachable the fort 
Of the long-batter'd world uplifts its wall; 

And strange and vain the earthly turmoil grows, 

And near and real the charm of thy repose. 
And night as welcome as a friend would fall. 

But hush! the upland hath a sudden loss 
Of quiet! — ^Look, adown the dusk hill-side, 

A troop of Oxford hunters going home, 
As in old days, jovial and talking, ride! 
From hunting with the Berkshire hounds they come. 
Quick! let me fly, and cross 



88 THE ENGLISH POETS 

Into yon farther field! — Tis done; and see, 
Back'd by the sunset, which doth glorify 
The orange and pale violet evening-sky, 

Bare on its lonely ridge, the Tree! the Tree! 

I take the omen! Eve lets dowa her veil. 
The white fog creeps from bush to bush about. 

The west unflushes, the high stars grow bright, 
And in the scattered farms the lights come out. 
I cannot reach the signal-tree to-night, 
Yet, happy omen, hail! 
Hear it from thy broad lucent Arno-vale 
. (For there thine earth-forgetting eyelids keep 

The morningless and una wakening sleep 
Under the flowery oleanders pale). 

Hear it, O Thyrsis, still our tree is there! — 
Ah, vain! These English fields, this upland dim. 

These brambles pale with mist engarlanded. 
That lone, sky-pointing tree, are not for him; 

To a boon southern country he is fled, 
And now in happier air. 
Wandering with the great Mother's train divine 

(And purer or more subtle soul than thee, 

I trow, the mighty Mother doth not see) 
Within a folding of the Apennine, 

Thou hearest the immortal chants of old! — 
Putting his sickle to the perilous grain 

In the hot cornfield of the Phrygian king. 
For thee the Lityerses-song again 

Young Daphnis with his silver voice doth sing; 
Sings his Sicilian fold, 
His sheep, his hapless love, his blinded eyes — 

And how a call celestial round him rang, 

And heavenward from the fountain-brink he sprang, 
And all the marvel of the golden skies. 

There thou art gone, and me thou leavest here 
Sole in these fields! yet will I not despair. 

Despair I will not, while I yet descry 
Neath the mild canopy of English air 



MATTHEW ARNOLD 89 

That lonely tree against the western sky. 
Still, stiU these slopes, 'tis dear, 
Our Gipsy-Scholar haunts, outliving thee! 

Fields where soft sheep from cages pull the hay. 

Woods with anemones in flower till May, 
Know him a wanderer sdll; then why not me? 



A fugitive and gracious light he seeks. 
Shy to illimiine; and I seek it too. 

This does not come with houses or with gold. 
With place, with honour, and a flattering crew; 

'Tis not in the world's market bought and sold — 
But the smooth-slipping weeks 
Drop by, and leave its seeker still untired; 

Out of the heed of mortals he is gone, . 

He wends unfollow'd, he must house alone; 
Yet on he fares, by his own heart inspired. 

Thou too, O Thyrsis, on like quest wast bound; 
Thou wanderedst with me for a little hour! 

Men gaverthee nothing; but this happy quest. 
If men esteem'd thee feeble, gave thee power, 

If men procured thee trouble, gave thee rest. 
And this rude Cimmer ground, 
Its fir-topped Hurst, its farms, its quiet fields, 

Here cam'st thou in thy jocund youthful time. 

Here was thine height of strength, thy golden prime! 
And still the haunt beloved a virtue yields. 

What though the music of thy rustic flute 
Kept not for long its happy, country tone; 

Lost it too soon, and learnt a stormy note 
Of men contention-tost, of men who groan. 

Which tasked thy pipe too sore, and tired thy throat- 
It fail'd, and thou wast mute! 
Yet hadst thou alway visions of our light. 

And long with men of care thou couldst not stay, 

And soon thy foot resumed its wandering way, 
Left human haimt, and on alone till night. 



90 THE ENGLISH POETS 

Too rare, too rare, grow now my visits here! 
'Mid city-noise, not, as with thee of yore, 

Th3rrsis! in reach of sheep-bells is my home. 
— Then through the great town's harsh, heart-weaiying roar. 

Let in thy voice a whisper often come, 
To chase fatigue and fear; 
Why faintest thou? I wandered till I died. 

Roam onl The light we sought is shining still. 

Dost thou ask proof? Our tree yet crowns the hiU 
Our Scholar travels yet the loved hiU-side. 



ALFRED, LORD TENNYSON 

[Alfred Tennyson was bom on Aug. 6, 1809, at Somersby Rectory, 
Lincolnshire. He was the third son of the Rev. George Clayton Tenny- 
son, LL.D., Rector of Somersby; his mother was a daughter of the Rev. 
Stephen Fytche. After education at Louth Grammar School, and at 
home, he went in 1828 to Trinity College, Cambridge. His "Po^ms, 
chiefly Lyrical," appeared in 1830. In 1850, having meanwhile won the 
foremost place among living English poets, he succeeded Wordsworth as 
Poet Laureate (Nov. 19). In June of the same year he married Miss 
Emily Sellwood. His first home after marriage was at Twickenham, 
where his eldest son, HaUam, was bom in 1852. In 1853 he removed to 
Farringford, near Freshwater, in the Isle of Wight, where his second son, 
Lionel, was bom in 1854. From the year 1869 onwards he had also a 
second home, Aldworth, near Haslemere in Surrey, where he usually 
passed the summer and early autumn. In January, 1884, he was created 
a peer, by the title of Baron Tennyson, of Aldworth and Farringford. 
He died at Aldworth on Oct. 6, 1892, aged eighty-three years and two 
months; and on Oct. 12 was buried in Westminster Abbey.] 

The gifts by which Tennyson has won, and will keep, his place 
among the great poets of England are pre-eminently those of an 
artist, pis genius for vivid and musical expression was joined to 
severe self-restraint, and to a patience which allowed nothing to go 
forth from him until it had been refined to the utmost perfection 
that he was capable of giving to it. And his "law of pure and 
flawless workmanship" (as Matthew Arnold defines the artistic 
quality in poetry) embraced far more than language: the same 
instinct controlled his composition in the larger sense; it is seen in 
the syimnetry of each work as a whole, in the due subordination of 
detail, in the distribution of light and shade, in the happy and 
discreet use of ornament. His versatility is not less remarkable: 
no Engh'sh poet has left masterpieces in so many different kinds of 
verse. On another side the spiritual subtlety of the artist is seen 
in the power of finding words for dim and fugitive traits of con- 
sciousness; as the artist's vision, at once minute and imaginative. 



92 TBE ENGLISB POETS 

is seen in his pictures of nature. By this varied and consummate 
excellence Tennyson ranks with the great artists of all time. 

This is the dominant aspect of his poetry. But there is another 
which presents itself as soon as we take the historical point of view, 
and inquire into the nature of his influence upon his age. Tenny- 
son was not primarily, like Wordsworth, a philosophical thinker, 
who felt called upon to be a teacher. But from the middle of the 
century onwards he was the. accepted poet, in respect to thought 
on religion and on many social questions, of that large public which 
might be described as the world of cultivated and moderately 
liberal orthodoxy. Multitudes of these readers were imperfectly 
capable of appreciating him as an artist: have not some of them 
been discussing who is "the Pilot" in Crossing the Bar? But at 
any rate they heard a voice which they cotdd generally understand; 
they felt that it was beautiful and noble; and they loved it because 
it soothed and elevated them. They cherished a poet who placed 
the centre of religion in a simple reliance on the divine love; who 
taught that, through all struggles and perplexities, the time was 
being guided towards some final good; who saw the results of 
science not as dangers but as reinforcements to faith; who wel- 
comed material progress and industrial vigour, but always sought 
to maintain the best traditions of English history and character. 
Now, this popular element in Tennyson's fame — as it may be called 
relatively to those elements which sprang from a full appreciation 
of his art — ^was not due to any conscious self-adaptation on his part 
to prevailing currents of thought and feeling. It arose from the 
peculiar relation of his genius to the period in which he grew up 
to manhood. His early youth was in England a day of bright 
dreams and confident auguries; for democracy and steam, all 
things were to be possible. Then came the reaction; doubts and 
diflliculties thickened ; questions started up in every field, bringing 
with them unrest, discouragement, or even despair. At such 
a season the poet who is pre-eminently an artist has a twofold 
opportunity; by creating beauty he can comfort the weary; but 
a yet higher task is to exercise, through his art, an ennobling 
and harmonizing influence on those more strenuous yet half- 
desponding spirits who bear the stress of the transition, while new 
and crude energies are threatening an abrupt breach with the past. 
It is a great work to do for a people, to win the popular ear at 
such a time for counsels of reverence and chivalry; to make them 
feel that these things are beautiful, and are bonds of the national 



LORD TENNYSON 93 



life, while the forces that tend to disintegration are also tending to 
make the people sordid and cynical. This is the work that Soph- 
odes, in his later years, did for Athens, and this is what Tennyson 
did for the England of his prime. 

His reputation was established with comparative ease. The 
volume, "Poems by Two Brothers" (1827), which he and his 
brother Charles published before they went to Cambridge, showed 
chiefly a love of poetry, and (in Persia) an exceptional ear for 
sound; but the Cambridge prize-poem on "Timbuctoo" (1829) was 
really notable, both in style and in the command of blank verse; it 
was a presage, however faint and immature, of the future, and was 
hailed with a natural delight by the author's friends. In 1830 he 
brought out "Poems, Chiefly Lyrical" — a thin volume, comprising 
many poems that have held their place, such as Claribelj Mariana^ 
and The Dying Swan. .Writing in the Englishman's Magazine, 
Arthur Hallam said, "The features of original genius are clearly 
and strongly marked. The author imitates nobody." Tennyson's 
style was, indeed, from the first wholly distinct from that of any 
poet who had preceded him. Two years later (1832) he published 
another volume, entitled simply "Poems" and including, among 
others, ,OZnone J The Palace of Art, The Loius-Eaters, A Dream of 
Fair Women, and The Lady of ShaloU, There was riper art here 
than in the former book — ^larger range of themes, greater depth of 
feeling, and more human interest; but, though the new work was 
cordially received by many, the full day of Tennyson's fame was 
not yet. In that charming poem of his latest years, Merlin and the 
Gleam — an allegorical retrospect of the poet's own career — a cer- 
tain moment in one of its earlier stages is indicated by " the croak 
of a raven" a bird which, indeed, seldom fails to cross a new sing- 
er's path at one point or another. The world at large was still (to 
quote Merlin again), "blind to the magic, and deaf to the melody." 
Then it was that Tennyson showed his reserved strength. He was 
silent for ten years, during which he subjected his old work to un- 
sparing revision, and disciplined himself for work yet better by 
unwearjdng self-criticism. In 1842 "Poems by Alfred Tennyson " 
appeared in two volumes. The first volume contained chiefly old 
poems, revised or re-cast. The pieces in the second volume were 
almost all new; among them were The Gardener^ s Daughter j Lock- 
siey Hall, Break, Break, Break, The Two Voices, Ulysses, and 
Morte d' Arthur. The success was rapid and great. Wordsworth, 
in a letter to a friend, generously described the author as "de- 



94 THE ENGLISH POETS 

ddedly the first of our living poets." Tennyson was then only 
thirty-three. In the popular estimate his reputation was perhaps 
not much enhanced by The Princess (1847), many as are its beau- 
ties, especially lyrical. But when In Memoriam appeared, in 
1850, it soon won for him a fame as wide as the English-speaking 
world. 

In Memoriam is a typical product of his art, but it is even 
more representative of his attitude towards the problems and 
mysteries of human life; it is the poem which best reveals the 
secret of his largest popularity. It might have seemed hopeless to 
expect general favour for an elegy of such unprecedented length on 
a youth who had "miss'd the earthly wreath," leaving a memory 
cherished by a few friends, who alone could measure the unfulfilled 
promise. Never, perhaps, has mastery of poetical resource won 
a more remarkable triumph than in Tennyson's treatment of this 
theme. The stanza selected, with its twofold capacity for pathos 
and for resonance, is exactly suited to a fiow of self-communing 
thought, prevailingly pensive, but passing at moments into a loftier 
or more jubilant note. The rhythm of this stanza also suits the 
division of the poem into sections; since the cadence of the fourth 
h'ne — ^where the rhyme has less emphasis then in the central 
couplet — can introduce a pause without giving a sense of abrupt- 
ness. Hence the music of the poem as a whole is continuous, 
while at the same time each section is an artistic unit. But this 
felicity is not merely technical; it is closely related to the treatment 
of the subject-matter. Two strains are interwoven throughout; 
one is personal — the memory and the sorrow, as they affect the 
poet; the other is broadly human and general — the experience of 
the soul as it contemplates life and death, as it finds or misses 
comfort in the face of nature, as it struggles through doubt to faith, 
or through anguish to peace. The blending of these two strains — 
which are constantly passing into each other — serves to idealise 
the theme, and so to justify the large scale of the treatment; it has 
also this effect, that the poem becomes a record of successive spir- 
itual moods, varied as the range of thought and emotion into which 
the personal grief broadens out. The composition of In Memoriam 
was, indeed, spread over seventeen years. The form has thus an 
inner correspondence with the material; each lyric section is a spir- 
itual mood — not sharply separated from that which precedes or 
from that which follows it, yet with a completeness of its own« 
Among particular traits, one which deserves especial notice is the 



LORD TENNYSON 95 



wonderful adumbration of the lost friend's power and charm. 
Neither quite definite nor yet mystic, the presence made sacred 
by death flits, with a strange light around it, through the poem; 
it never comes or goes without making us feel that this great sorrow 
is no fantasy, but has its root in a great loss. The religious thought 
of In Memoriam bears the stamp of the time at which it was pro- 
duced, in so far as doubts, frankly treated, are met with a sober 
optimism of a purely subjective a nd emotional kind. But the poem 
has also an abiding and universal significance as the journal of a 
mind slowly passing through a bitter ordeal, and as an expression 
of reliance on the "Strong Son of God, immortal Love." 

The Idylls of the King, in their complete form, include work 
of various periods. Tennyson's interest in the legends of the 
Arthurian cycle was shown at an early date, and was fruitful at 
intervals during half a century. The Lady of Shalott ( 1 83 2) was his 
lyric prelude to the theme; two kindred lyrics — Sir Galahad and 
Sir Lancelot and Queen Guinevere — ^found place in the volumes of 
1842, which contained also the epic Morte d^ Arthur, now incor- 
porated in The Passing of Arthur, A half-playful prologue intro- 
duces the Morte d* Arthur as the only surviving canto of an epic 
which had been consigned to the flames: perhaps the poet felt, in 
1842, that the taste for "romance" had so far waned as to render 
this " fragment " somewhat of an experiment. It is one of his finest 
pieces of blank verse, and the reception given to it was an invita- 
tion to continue the strain. But it was not till 1859 that he 
published the first set of Idylls — Enid, Vivien, Elaine, and Guin- 
evere. In 1870 appeared The Coming of Arthur, The Holy Graily 
PeUeas and Ettarre, and The Passing of Arthur: followed in 1872 
by Gareth and Lynette and The Last Tournament, and in 1885 by 
Balin and Balan. The twelve books (two being given to Enid) 
are now arranged in the order of events; but in the order of com- 
position, as we have seen, the last portion of the story came first, 
the beginning next, and the middle last. Such a process of growth 
is in itself a warning that the series, though it had been planned 
from the outset as a whole, should not be tried by the ordinary 
tests of an epic: the unity is here less strict; the main current 
of narrative is less continuous. "Idyll" is, indeed, exactly the 
right word; each is a separate picture, rich in passages of brilliant 
power, but distinguished especially by finish of detail. Arthur's 
ideal purpose is rather a golden thread, common to the several 
pieces but not equally vital to all, than an organic bond among 



96 THE ENGLISH POETS 

them; and the pervading allegory of "sense at war with soul" 
is at most a link of another kind. But instead of epic concen- 
tration these Idylls have a charm of their own. From tracing 
the destiny of the king, they lead us aside, now and again, into 
those by-ways of romance where a light tinged with modern 
thought and fancy is thrown on mediaeval forest and castle, on 
tournament and bower, on the chivalry, the tenderness, the vio- 
lence, the enchantments, and the faith. Arthur's fortunes are 
illustrated by his age. No other single work shows so comprehen- 
sively the range of Tennyson's power; the variety of the theme de- 
mands a corresponding wealth of resource; there is scarcely any 
mood of the mind, any phase of action, any aspect of nature which 
does not find expression somewhere or other in the Idylls, 

But a poet who is everywhere an exquisite artist, and who is also 
remarkably versatile, cannot be adequately judged except by the 
sum total of his work; there are notes which he may strike only 
once or twice in the whole of it. Thus in Maud — ^never a popular 
poem, in spite of the marvellous lyrics — he touches his highest 
point in the utterance of passion; its dramatic power is undisputed. 
The general verdict upon his plays has been that they are more 
distinguished by excellence of literary execution than by qualities 
properly dramatic; though few critics, perhaps, would deny the 
dramatic effectiveness of particular scenes or passages, in Harold, 
for example, or Becket, or The Cup. But whatever may be the 
final judgment upon the plays, Maud remains to prove, that among 
Tennyson's gifts, the dramatic gift was at least not originaUy 
absent; though its manifestation in that poem is necessarily 
limited to a particular phase. Turning next to a different region of 
his work, we see in The Northern Farmer ("old style") a quality 
which hardly any imaginative writer of this century has better 
exemplified — the power of faithfully conceiving a very narrow 
mental horizon, without allowing a single disturbing ray to steal in 
from the artist's own mind. Again : in the interpretation of feeling, 
this poet can seize impressions so transient, so difficult of analysis, 
that they might seem to defy the grasp of language; one recognises 
them almost with a start, as if some voice, once familiar, were 
unexpectedly heard; 

"Moreover something is or seems, 
That touches me with mystic gleams, 
Like glimpses of forgotten dreams." 



LORD TENNYSON 97 



Or: 

"The glory of the sum of things 
Will flash along the chords and go." 

Akin to this faculty is Tennyson's subtle expression of desiderium, 
the indefinable yearning towards " the days that are no more," as in 
Breaky Break, Break, or in Tears, Idle Tears. 

His descriptions of nature exhibit two qualities, distinct in 
essence, though sometimes combined. One appears in his land- 
scape-painting: it is the gift of selecting salient features and 
composing them into an artistic picture — such as that of the "vale 
in Ida," where 

"The swimming vapour floats athwart the glen, 
Puts forth an arm, and creeps from pine to pine, 
And loiters, slowly drawn"; 

or of that coral island where Enoch Arden heard 

"The league-long roller thundering on the reef, 
The moving whisper of huge trees that branched 
And blossom'd in the zenith . . ." 

The distinction of his imaginary landscapes is not merely vivid- 
ness or truth, but the union of these with a certain dreamy and 
aerial charm. His other great quality as a nature-poet is seen in 
the treatment of detail — ^in vignettes where the result of minute 
and keen insight is made to live before us in some magical phrase; 
such as "The shining levels of the lake"; "The twinkling laurel 
scatters silver lights"; the shoal of fish that "came slipping o'er 
their shadows on the sand." His accuracy in this province is said 
to be unerring: thus a critic who twitted him with having made 
a "crow" lead a "rookery" had to learn that in Lincolnshire, as in 
some other parts of Britain, "crow" is the generic term. In this 
context we must not forget Owd Rod — ^as pathetic a tribute as any 
in English poetry to the heroism of a dog. In regard to the vegeta- 
tion of England, and, generally, to the peculiar charm of English 
scenery, Tennyson is the foremost of EngUsh poets; no one else 
has painted them with such accurate felicity. Among the English 
poets of the sea, too, he has a high place; he can describe, as in 
Elaine, the wind in strife with the billow of the North Sea, "green- 
glimmering toward the summit"; but especially his verse can give 
back all the tones of the sea upon the shore, and can interpret their 
sympathy with the varying moods of the human spirit. 



98 THE ENGLISH POETS 

Seven of his poems are on subjects from Greek mythology — 
The Lotus-Eaters J Ulysses, (Enone, The Death of (Enone, Tithonus, 
Tiresias, Demeter and Persephone, In each case he has chosen 
a theme which left scope for artistic originality — the ancient 
material being either meagre or second-rate. Each poem presents, 
in small or moderate compass, the picture of a moment, or of an 
episode; "brief idyll" is the phrase by which he describes his 
Tiresias (in the lines on the death of Edward Fitzgerald). The 
common characteristic of these seven poems is the consummate 
'art which has caught the spirit of the antique, without a trace of 
pedantry in form or in language. The blank verse (used for all 
except The Lotus-Eaters) has a restrained power, and a flexible 
yet majestic grace, which produces an effect analogous to that of 
Greek sculpture. Tennyson's instinct for classical literary art 
appears in his epitome of Virgil's style — 

"All the charm of all the Muses often flowering in a lonely word"; 

as, again, his sympathy with the temper of the old world's sorrow 
is seen in the verses written at "olive-silvery Sirmio," and suggested 
by the lines of Catullus, Prater ave atque vale. In Lucretius Tenny- 
son shows an intimate knowledge of that poet's work, and a 
curious skiU in reproducing his tone; but the highest interest of 
this masterpiece is psychological and dramatic. It translates the 
sober earnestness of Lucretius into a morbid phase. The De 
Rerum Natura is silent on the difficulty of reconciling the gods 
with the cosmology of Epicurus. But now, when the whole inner 
life of Lucretius is unhinged by the workings of the poison, the 
doubt, so long repressed by reverence for the Greek master, 
starts up — 

"The Gods! the Gods! 
If all be atoms, how then should the Grods 
Being atomic, not be dissoluble. 
Not follow the great law? " 

Tennyson's English is always pure and idiomatic, avoiding 
foreign words, though without pedantic rigour; and he commands 
many different shades of diction, finely graduated according to the 
subject. One of his aims was to recall expressive words which had 
fallen out of common use; in the Idylls, more especially, he found 
scope for this. His melody, in its finer secrets, eludes analysis; 
but one element of it, the delicate management of vowel-soimds, 



LORD TENNYSON 99 



can be seen in such lines as "The mellow ouzel fluted in the elm"; 
or, "Katie walks by the long wash of Australasian seas." The 
latter verse illustrates also another trait of his melody — the 
restrained use of alliteration, which he scarcely allows, as a rule, 
to strike the ear, unless he has some artistic motive for making it 
prominent, as in parts of Maidd, and in some of the songs in The 
Princess. As a metrist, he is the creator of a new blank verse, 
different both from the Elizabethan and from the Miltonic. He 
has known how to modulate it to every theme, and to elicit a music, 
appropriate to each; attuning it in turn to a tender and homely 
grace, as in Tke Gardener^s Daughter; to the severe and ideal 
majesty of the antique, as in Tithonus; to meditative thought, as 
in The Ancient Sage, or Akbar^s Dream; to pathetic or tragic tales 
of contemporary life, as in Aylmer^s Field, or Enoch Arden; or 
to sustained romantic narrative, as in the Idylls. No English 
poet has used blank verse with such flexible variety, or drawn from 
it so large a compass of tones; nor has any maintained it so equably 
on a high level of excellence. In lyric metres Tennyson has in- 
vented much, and has also shown a rare power of adaptation. 
Many of his lyric measures are wholly his own; while others have 
been so treated by him as to make them virtually new. The 
In Memoriam stanza had been used before him, though he was 
unaware of this when he adopted it; but no predecessor had 
shown its full capabilities. In the first part of The Lotus-Eaters 
he employs the Spenserian stanza, but gives it a peculiar tone, 
suited to the theme; the melody is so contrived that languor 
seems to weigh upon every verse. To illustrate his lyric har- 
monies of form and matter would be to enumerate his lyrics; 
two or three instances must suffice. The close-locked three-line 
stanza of The Two Voices suits the series of compact sentiments 
or points: 

"Then to the still small voice I said. 

Let me not cast in endless shade 

What is so wonderfully made." 

In The Palace of Art, the shortened fourth Kne of the quatrain 
gives a restful pause, inviting to the contemplation of pictures: — 

Or in a clear-walled city on the sea. 

Near gilded organ-pipes, her hair 
Wound with white roses, slept St. Cecily; 

An angel look'd at her. 



lOO THE ENGLISH POETS 

The stanza of The Daisy, again, suits the light grace which plays 
around those memories of travel: — 

O Love, what hours were thine and mine, 
In lands of palm and southern pine; 

In lands of palm, of orange-blossom. 
Of olive, aloe, and maize and vine. 

These are, however, only a few lyric examples of a quality which 
belongs to all his work. Throughout its wide range, he has every- 
where accomplished the harmony of form and matter: the charm 
of the utterance is indivisible from the charm of the thought. 
Poetical art which has done this is raised above changes of ten- 
dency or fashion; it is as permanent as beauty. Tennyson, in 
wielding the English language, has been a great and original artist; 
he has enriched English literature with manifold and imperishable 
models of excellence. He has expressed, with absolute felicity, 
numberless phases in the great primary emotions of human nature 
— ^love, joy, grief, hope, despondency, the moods of youth and of 
age, the response in the soul to the various aspects of nature, the 
sense of awful mystery in human life, the instincts, vague yet per- 
sistent, which aspire to immortality, and seem to promise it, the 
yearning faith in divine goodness and guidance — feelings common 
to humanity, no doubt, but not therefore commonplace, unless that 
epithet is applicable to sunrise and starlight. His teaching has 
been pure, high-hearted, and manly; full of- love for his country, 
and true to the things which have made England great. Among 
all the masters of English song, there is none who can give more 
exquisite delight to those who feel his inmost charm; and there is 
probably none who has brought a larger gift of noble pleasure and 
of comfort to people of all sorts, especially to those in perplexity 
or sorrow. 

R. C. JEBB. 



LORD TENNYSON loi 



Claribel 
A Melody 

I 

Where Claribel low-lieth 
The breezes pause and die, 
Letting the rose-leaves fall: 
But the solemn oak-tree sigheth, 
Thick-leaved, ambrosial, 
With an andent melody 
Of an inward agony, 
Where Claribel low-lieth. 



At eve the beetle boometh 

Athwart the thicket lone: 
At noon the wild bee hummeth 

About the moss'd headstone: 
At midnight the moon cometh, 

And looketh down alone. 
Her song the lintwhite swelleth, 
The clear-voiced mavis dwelleth, 

The callow throstle lispeth, 
The slumbrous wave outwelleth, 

The babbling runnel crispeth, 
The hollow grot replieth 

Where Claribel low-lieth. 



A Dirge 

I 

Now is done thy long day's work; 
Fold thy palms across thy breast, 
Fold thine arms, turn to thy rest. 

Let them rave. 
Shadows of the silver birk 
Sweep the grfeen that folds thy grave. 

Let them rave. 



I02 THE ENGLISH POETS 



Thee nor carketh care nor slander; 
Nothing but the small cold worm 
Fretteth thine enshrouded form. 

Let them rave. 
Light and shadow ever wander 
O'er the green that folds thy grave. 

Let them rave. 



m 

Thou wilt not turn upon thy bed 
Chauntfeth not the brooding bee 
Sweeter tones than calumny? 

Let them rave. 
Thou wilt never raise thine head 
From the green that folds thy grave. 

Let them rave. 



IV 

Crocodiles wept tears for thee; 

The woodbine and eglatere 

Drip sweeter dews than traitor's tear. 

Let them rave. 
Rain makes music in the tree 
O'er the green that folds thy grave. 

Let them rave. 



Roimd thee blow, self-pleached deep. 
Bramble roses, faint and pale, 
And long purples of the dale. 

Let them rave. 
These in every shower creep 
Thro' the green that folds thy grave. 

Let them rave. 



LORD TENNYSON 103 



VI 

The gold-eyed kingcups fine; 
The frail bluebell peereth over^ 
Rare broidry of the purple clover. 

Let them rave. 
Kings have no such couch as thine, 
As the green that folds thy grave. 

Let them rave. 



vn 

Wild words wander here and there: 
God's great gift of speech abused 
Makes thy memory confused: 

But let them rave. 
The balm-cricket carols clear 
In the green that folds thy grave. 

Let them rave. 



The Lady of Shalott 
Part I 

On either side the river lie 

Long fields of barley and of rye, 
That clothe the wold and meet the sky; ^ 
And thro' the field the road runs by C 

To many-tower 'd Camelot; 6 
And up and down the people go,^ 
Gazing where the lilies blow C 
Round an island there below, s^ 

The island of Shalott. c^ 

Willows whiten, aspens quiver. 
Little breezes dusk and ^iver 
Thro' the wave that runs for ever 
By the island in the river 

Flowing down to Camelot. 



104 THE ENGLISH POETS' 

Four gray walls, and four gray towers, 
Overlook a space of flowers, 
And the silent isle embowers 
The Lady of Shalott. 

By the margin, willow-veil'd. 
Slide the heavy barges trail'd 
By slow horses; and imhaiPd 
The shallop flitteth silken-sail'd 

Skimming down to Camelot: 
But who hath seen her wave her hand? 
Or at the casement seen her stand? 
Or is she known in all the land, 

The Lady of Shalott? 

Only reapers, reaping early 
In among the bearded barley. 
Hear a song that echoes cheerly 
From the river winding clearly, 

Down to tower'd Camelot: 
And by the moon the reaper weary. 
Piling sheaves in uplands airy. 
Listening, whispers " Tis the fairy 

Lady of Shalott." 

Part II 

There she weaves by night and day 
A magic web with colours gay. 
She has heard a whisper say, 
A curse is on her if she stay 

To look down to Camelot. 
She knows not what the curse may be, 
And so she weaveth steadily. 
And little other care hath she. 

The Lady of Shalott. 

And moving thro' a mirror clear 
That hangs before her all the year, 
Shadows of the world appear. 
There she sees the highway near 
Winding down to Camelot: 



LORD TENNYSON 105 



There the river eddy whirls, . 
And there the surly village-churls, 
And the red cloaks of market girls, 
Pass onward from Shalott. 

Sometimes a troop of damsels glad. 
An abbot on an ambling pad. 
Sometimes a curly shepherd-lad. 
Or long-hair'd page in crimson clad, 

Goes by to tower'd Camelot: 
And sometimes thro' the mirror blue 
The knights come riding two and two: 
She hath no loyal knight and true. 

The Lady of Shalott. 

But in her web she still delights 
To weave the mirror's magic sights, 
For often thro' the silent nights 
A funeral, with plumes and lights 

And music, went to Camelot: 
Or when the moon was overhead. 
Came two yoimg lovers lately wed ; 
"I am half sick of shadows," said 

The Lady of Shalott. 

Part III 

A bow-shot from her bower-eaves. 
He rode between the barley-sheaves, 
The sun came dazzling thro' the leaves. 
And flamed upon the brazen greaves 

Of bold Sir Lancelot. 
A red-cross knight for ever kneel'd 
To a lady in his shield, 
That sparkled on the yellow field, 
Beside remote Shalott. 

The gemmy bridle glittered free, 
Like to some branch of stars we see 
Himg in the golden Galaxy. 
The bridle bells rang merrily 

As he rode down to Camelot: 



io6 THE ENGLISH POETS 

And from his blazoned baldric slung 
A mighty silver bugle hung, 
And as he rode his armour rung, 
Beside remote Shalott. 

All in the blue unclouded weather 
Thick-jewell'd shone the saddle-leather, 
The helmet and the helmet-feather 
Burn'd like one burning flame together, 

As he rode down to Camelot. 
As often thro' the purple night, 
Below the starry clusters bright, 
Some bearded meteor, trailing light, 

Moves over still Shalott. 

His broad clear brow in sunlight glow'd; 
On burnish 'd hooves his war-horse trode; 
From underneath his helmet flowed 
His coal-black curls as on he rode. 

As he rode down to Camelot. 
From the bank and from the river 
He flash 'd into the crystal mirror, 
"Tirra lirra," by the river 

Sang Sir Lancelot. 

She left the web, she left the loom. 
She made three paces thro' the room, 
She saw the water-lily bloom, 
She saw the helmet and the plume, 

She look'd down to Camelot. 
Out flew the web and floated wide; 
The mirror crack 'd from side to side; 
"The curse is come upon me," cried 

The Lady of Shalott. 

Part IV 

In the stormy east-wind straining. 
The pale yellow woods were waning, 
The broad stream in his banks complaining 
Heavily the low sky raining 
Over tower'd Camelot, 



LORD TENNYSON 107 

Down she came and found a boat 
Beneath a willow left afloat, 
And round about the prow she wrote 
The Lady of ShaloU. 

And down the river's dim expanse 
Like some bold seer in a trance, 
Seeing all his own mischance — 
With a glassy coimtenance 

Did she look to Camelot. 
And at the closing of the day 
She loosed the chain and down she lay; 
The broad stream bore her far away, 

The Lady of Shalott, 

Lying, robed in snowy white 
That loosely flew to left and right — 
The leaves upon her falling light — 
Thro' the noises of the night 

She floated down to Camelot: 
And as the boat-head wound along 
The willowy hills and fields among. 
They heard her singing her last song, 

The Lady of Shalott. 

Heard a carol, mournful, holy. 
Chanted loudly, chanted lowly. 
Till her blood was frozen slowly. 
And her eyes were darkened wholly, 

Tum'd to tower'd Camelot. 
For ere she reached upon the tide 
The first house by the water-side, 
Singing in her song she died. 

The Lady of Shalott. 

Under tower and balcony, 
By garden-wall and gallery, 
A gleaming shape she floated by, 
Dead-pale between the houses high 
Silent into Camelot. 



I08 TEE ENGLISH POETS 

Out upon the wharfs they came, 
Knight and burgher, lord and dame, 
And round the prow they read her name, 
The Lady oj ShaloU, 

Who is this? and what is here? 
And in the lighted palace near 
Died the sound of royal cheer; 
And they crossed themselves for fear 

All the knights at Camelot: 
But Lancelot mused a little space; 
He said, ''She has a lovely face; 
God in his mercy lend her grace, 

The Lady of Shalott." 



Eleanore 



Thy dark eyes open'd not, 
Nor first revealed themselves to English air, 
For there is nothing here. 
Which, from the outward to the inward brought, 
Moulded thy baby thought. 
Far off from human neighbourhood. 

Thou wert bom, on a summer mom, 
A mile beneath the cedar-wood. 
Thy bounteous forehead was not fann'd 

With breezes from our oaken glades. 
But thou wert nursed in some delicious land 

Of lavish lights, and floating shades: 
And flattering thy childish thought 

The oriental fairy brought, 
At the moment of thy birth, 
From old well-heads of haunted rills. 
And the hearts of purple hills, 

And shadow'd coves on a simny shore. 
The choicest wealth of all the earth. 

Jewel or shell, or starry ore, 

To deck thy cradle, Eleanore. 



LORD TENNYSON 109 



Or the yellow-banded bees, 
Thro' half-open lattices 
Coming in the scented breeze, 
Fed thee, a child, lying alone. 

With whitest honey in fairy gardens cull'd- 
A glorious child, dreaming alone, 
In silk-soft folds, upon yielding down, 
With the hum of swarming bees 

Into dreamful slumber lulled. 



m 

Who may minister to thee? 
Summer herseK should minister 

To thee, with fruitage golden-rinded 
On golden salvers, or it may be. 
Youngest Autumn, in a bower 
Grape-thicken'd from the light, and blinded 

With many a deep-hued bell-like flower 
Of fragrant trailers, when the air 
Sleepeth over all the heaven, 
And the crag that fronts the Even, 
All along the shadowing shore, 
Crimsons over an inland mere, 
Eleanore! 



IV 

How may full-sail'd verse express, 
How may measured words adore 
The full-flowing harmony 
Of thy swan-like stateliness, 
Eleanore? 
The luxuriant symmetry 
Of thy floating gracefulness, 
Eleanore? 
Every turn and glance of thine, 
Every lineament divine, 
Eleanore, 



no TEE ENGLISH POETS 

And the steady sunset glow, 
That stays upon thee? For in thee 
Is nothing sudden, nothing single; 
Like two streams of incense free 
From one censer in one shrine, 
Thought and motion mingle, 
Mingle fever. Motions flow 
To one another, even as tho* 
They were modulated so 
To an unheard melody, 
Which lives about thee, and a sweep 

Of richest pauses, evermore 
Drawn from each other mellow-deep; 
Who may eicpress thee, Eleanore? 



I stand before thee, Eleslnore; 

I see thy beauty gradually unfold, 
Daily and hourly, more and more. 
I muse, as in a trance, the while 

Slowly, as from a cloud of gold, 
Comes out thy deep ambrosial smile. 
I muse, as in a trance, whene'er 

The languors of thy love-deep eyes 
Float on to me. I would I were 

So tranced, so rapt in ecstasies, 
To stand apart, and to adore. 
Gazing on thee for evermore. 
Serene, imperial Eleanore! 

VI 

Sometimes, with most intensity 

Gazing, I seem to see 

Thought folded over thought, smiling asleep, 

Slowly awakened grow so full and deep 

In thy large eyes, that, overpowered quite, 

I cannot veil, or droop my sight, 

But am as nothing in its light: 

As tho' a star, in inmost heaven set, 

Ev'n while we gaze on it. 



LORD TENNYSON iii 



Should slowly round his orb, and slowly grow 
To a full face, there like a sun remain 
Fix*d — ^then as slowly fade again. 

And draw itseK to what it was before; 
So full, so deep, so slow, 
Thought seems to come and go 
In thy large eyes, imperial Eleanore. 

vn 

As thunder-clouds that, hung on high. 

Roof 'd the world with doubt and fear, 
Floating thro' an evening atmosphere, 
Grow golden all about the sky; 
In thee all passion becomes passionless, 
Touched by thy spirit's mellowness, 
Losing his fire and active might 

In a silent meditation. 
Falling into a still delight. 

And luxury of contemplation: 
As waves that up a quiet cove 
RoUing slide, and lying still 
Shadow forth the banks at will: 
Or sometimes they swell and move, 
Pressing up against the land. 
With motions of the outer sea: 
And the self-same influence 
ControUeth all the soul and sense 
Of Passion gazing upon thee. 
His bow-string slackened, languid Love, 
Leaning his cheek upon his hand. 
Droops both his wings, regarding thee, 
And so would languish evermore, 
Serene, imperial Eleanore. 

vin 

But when I see thee roam, with tresses unconfined, 
While the amorous, odorous wind 

Breathes low between the sunset and the moon; 
Or, in a shadowy saloon. 
On sOken cushions half reclined; 



112 THE ENGLISH POETS 

I watch thy grace; and in its place 
My heart a charmed slumber keeps, 

While I muse upon thy face; 
And a languid fire creeps 

Thro' my veins to all my frame, 
Dissolvingly and slowly: soon 
From thy rose-red lips my name 
Floweth; and then, as in a swoon, 
With dinning sound my ears are rife, 

My tremulous tongue faltereth, 
I lose my colour, I lose my breath, 
I drink the cup of a costly death, 
Brimm'd with deh'rious draughts of warmest life. 
I die with my delight, before 

I hear what I would hear from thee; 
Yet tell. my name again to me, 
I would be dying evermore, 
So dying ever, Eleanore. 



V 



Of old sat Freedom on the Heights 

Of old sat Freedom on the heights. 
The thunders breaking at her feet: 

Above her shook the starry lights: 
She heard the torrents meet. 

There in her place she did rejoice, 
Self-gather'd in her prophet-mind, 

But fragments of her mighty voice 
Came rolling on the wind. 

Then stept she down thro* town and field 
To mingle with the human race. 

And part by part to men revealed 
The fullness of her face — 

Grave mother of majestic works. 
From her isle-altar gazing down. 

Who, God-like, grasps the triple forks. 
And, King-like, wears the crown: 



LORD TENNYSON 113 

Her open eyes desire the truth. 

The wisdom of a thousand years 
Is in them. May perpetual youth 

Keep dry their light from tears; 

That her fair form may stand and shine, 
Make bright our days and light our dreams, 

Turm'ng to scorn with lips divine 
The falsehood of extremes! 



NyLovE Thou Thy Land 

Love thou thy land, with love far-brought 
From out the storied Past, and used 
Within the Present, but transfused 

Thro' future time by power of thought. 

Tnie love turned roimd on fixed poles, 
Love, that endures not sordid ends, 
For English natures, freemen, friends, 

Thy brothers and immortal souls. 

But pamper not a hasty time. 

Nor feed with crude imaginings 

The herd, wild hearts and feeble wings 

That every sophister can lime. 

Deliver not the tasks of might 

To weakness, neither hide the ray 
From those, not blind, who wait for day, 

Tho' sitting girt with doubtful light. 

Make knowledge circle with the winds; - 
But let her herald, Reverence, fly 
Before her to whatever sky 

Bear seed of men and growth of minds. 

Watch what main-currents draw the years: 
Cut Prejudice against the grain: 
But gentle words are always gain: 

Regard the weakness of thy peers: 



114 THE ENGLISH POETS 

Nor toil for title, place, or touch 

Of pensions, neither count on praise: 
It grows to guerdon after-days: 

Nor deal in watch-words overmuch: 

Not clinging to some ancient saw; 

Not mastered by some modern term; 

Not swift nor slow to change, but firm: 
And in its season bring the law; 

That from Discussion's lip may fall 

With Life, that, working strongly, binds- 
Set in all lights by many minds, 

To close the interests of all. 

For Nature also, cold and warm, 

And moist and dry, devising long. 
Thro' many agents making strong, 

Matures the individual form. 

Meet is it changes should control 
Our being, lest we rust in ease. 
We all are changed by still degrees, 

All but the basis of the soul. 

So let the change which comes be free 

To ingroove itself with that which flies. 
And work, a joint of state, that plies 

Its office, moved with sympathy. 

A sajdng, hard to shape in act; 

For all the past of Time reveals 
A bridal dawn of thunder-peals. 

Wherever Thought hath wedded Fact 

Ev'n now we hear with inward strife 
A motion toiling in the gloom — 
The Spirit of the years to come 

Yearning to mix himself with Life. 

A slow-develop'd strength awaits 
Completion in a painful school; 
Phantoms of other forms of rule, 

New Majesties of mighty States — 



LORD TENNYSON 115 



The warders of the growing hour, 

But vague in vapour, hard to mark; 
And round them sea and air are dark ( 

With great contrivances of Power. 

Of many changes, aptly join'd, 

Is bodied forth the second whole. 
Regard gradation, lest the soul 

Of Discord race the rising wind; 

A wind to pufif your idol-fires. 

And heap their ashes on the head; 
To shame the boast, so often made, 

That we are wiser than our sires. 

Oh yet, if Nature's evil star 

Drive men in manhood, as in youth, 
To follow flying steps of Truth 

Across the brazen bridge of war — 

If New and Old, disastrous feud. 

Must ever shock, like armed foes. 
And this be true, till Time shall close, 

That Principles are rain'd in blood; 

Not yet the wise of heart would cease 

To hold his hope thro' shame and guilt, 
But with his hand kgainst the hilt. 

Would pace the troubled land, like Peace; 

Not less, tho' dogs of Faction bay. 

Would serve his kind in deed and word, 
Certain, if knowledge bring the sword, ' 

That knowledge takes the'^word away— 

Would love the gleams of good that broke ; 
From either side, nor veil his eyes: 
And if some dreadful need should rise 

Would strike, and firmly, and one stroke: 

To-morrow yet would reap to-day. 
As we bear blossom of the dead; 
Earn well the thrifty months, nor wed 

Raw Haste, half-sister to Delay. 



Il6 THE ENGLISH POETS 



You Ask Me, Why, Tho' III at Ease 

You ask me, why, tho' ill at ease. 
Within this region I subsist. 
Whose spirits falter in the mist, 

And languish for the purple seas. 

It is the land that freemen till. 

That sober-suited Freedom chose. 

The land, where girt with friends or foes 

A man may speak the thing he will; 

A land of settled government, 

A land of just and old renown. 
Where Freedom slowly broadens down 

From precedent to precedent: 

Where faction seldom gathers head, 
But by degrees to fullness wrought. 
The strength of some diffusive thought 

Hath time and space to work and spread. 

Should banded unions persecute 
Opinion, and induce a time 
When single thought is civil crime, 

And individual freedom mute; 

Tho' Power should make from land to land 
The name of Britain trebly great — 
Tho' every channel of the State 

Should fill and choke with golden sand — 

Yet waft me from the harbour-mouth. 
Wild wind! I seek a warmer sky. 
And I will see before I die 

The palms and temples of the South. 



LORD TENNYSON 117 



MORTE D'ArTHUR 

So all day long the noise of battle roird 
Among the mountains by the winter sea; 
Until King Arthur's table, man by man, 
Had fallen in Lyonness about their Lord, 
King Arthur: then, because his wound was deep, 
The bold Sir Bedivere uplifted him, 
Sir Bedivere, the last of all his knights, 
And bore him to a chapel nigh the field, 
A broken chancel with a broken cross, 
That stood on a dark strait of barren land. 
On one side lay the Ocean, and on one 
Lay a great water, and the moon was full. 

Then spake King Arthur to Sir Bedivere: 
"The sequel of to-day unsolders all 
The goodliest fellowship of famous knights 
Whereof this world holds record. Such a sleep 
They sleep — ^the men I lovfed. I think that we 
Shall never more, at any future time. 
Delight our souls with talk of knightly deeds, 
Walking about the gardens and the halls 
Of Camelot, as in the days that were. 
I perish by this people which I made, — 
Tho' Merlin sware that I should come again 
To rule once more — ^but let what will be, be, 
I am so deeply smitten thro' the helm 
That without help I cannot last till morn. 
Thou therefore take my brand Excalibur, 
Which was my pride: for thou rememberest how 
In those old da3rs, one sunmier noon, an arm 
Rose up from out the bosom of the lake. 
Clothed in white samite, mystic, wonderful, 
Holding the sword — ^and how I row'd across 
And took it, and have worn it, like a king: 
And, wheresoever I am sung or told 
In aftertime, this also shall be known: 
But now delay not: take Excalibur, 



Ii8 TEE ENGLISH POETS 

And fling him far into the middle mere: 

Watch what thou seest, and lightly bring me word." 

To him replied the bold Sir Bedivere: 
"It is not meet, Sir King, to leave thee thus, 
Aidless, alone, and smitten thro' the helm. 
A little thing may harm a wounded man. 
Yet I thy hest will all perform at full. 
Watch what I see, and lightly bring thee word." 

So saying, from the ruin'd shrine he stept 
And in the moon athwart the place of tombs. 
Where lay the mighty bones of ancient men. 
Old knights, and over them the sea-wind sang 
Shrill, chill, with flakes of foam. He, stepping down 
By zig-zag paths, and juts of pointed rock, 
Came on the shining levels of the lake. 

There drew he forth the brand Excalibur, 
And o*er him, drawing it, the winter moon. 
Brightening the skirts of a long cloud, ran forth 
And sparkled keen with frost against the hilt: 
For all the haft twinkled with diamond sparks, 
Myriads of topaz-lights, and jacinth-work 
Of subtlest jewellery. He gazed so long 
That both his eyes were dazzled, as he stood, 
This way and that dividing the swift mind. 
In act to throw: but at the last it seem'd 
Better to leave Excalibur concealed 
There in the many-knotted waterflags, 
That whistled stiff and dry about the marge. 
So strode he back slow to the wounded King. 

Then spake King Arthur to Sir Bedivere: 
"Hast thou performed my mission which I gave? 
What is it thou hast seen? or what hast heard?" 

And answer made the bold Sir Bedivere: 
"I heard the ripple washing in the reeds. 
And the wild water lapping on the crag." 

To whom replied King Arthur, faint and pale: 
"Thou hast betray 'd thy nature and thy name. 
Not rendering true answer, as beseem'd 
Thy fgalty, nor like a noble knight: 
For surer sign had followed, either hand, 
Or voice, or else a motion of the mere. 



LORD TENNYSON 119 



This is a shameful thing for men to lie. 

Yet now, I charge thee, quickly go again 

As thou art lief and dear, and do the thing 

I bade thee, watch, and lightly bring me word." 

Then went Sir Bedivere the second time 
Across the ridge, and paced beside the mere. 
Counting the dewy pebbles, fix*d in thought; 
But when he saw the wonder of the hilt, 
How curiously and strangely chased, he smote 
His palms together, and he cried aloud, 

"And if indeed I cast the brand away, 
Surely a precious thing, one worthy note. 
Should thus be lost for ever from the earth, 
Which might have pleased the eyes of many men. 
What good should follow this, if this were done? 
What harm, undone? deep harm to disobey, 
Seeing obedience is the bond of nile. 
Were it well to obey then, if a king demand 
An act unprofitable, against himself? 
The King is sick, and knows not what he does. 
What record, or what relic of my lord 
Should be to aftertime, but empty breath 
And rumours of a doubt? but were this kept. 
Stored in some treasure-house of mighty kings, 
Some one might show it at a joust of arms, 
Saying, *King Arthur's sword, Excalibur, 
Wrought by the lonely maiden of the Lake. 
Nine years she wrought it, sitting in the deeps 
Upon the hidden bases of the hills.' 
So might some old man speak in the aftertime 
To all the people, winning reverence. 
But now much honour and much fame were lost." 

So spake he, clouded with his own conceit. 
And hid Excalibur the second time, 
And so strode back slow to the wounded King. 

Then spoke King Arthur, breathing heavily: 
"What is it thou hast seen? or what hast heard?" 

And answer made the bold Sir Bedivere: 
"I heard the water lapping on the crag, 
And the long ripple washing in the reeds." 

To whom replied King Arthur, much in wrath: 



I20 THE ENGLISH POETS 

^^Ah, miserable and unkind, untrue, 

Unknightly, traitor-hearted! Woe is me! 

Authority forgets a dying king, 

Laid widowed of the power in his eye 

That bow'd the will. I see thee what thou art, 

For thou, the latest-left of all my knights, 

In whom should meet the offices of all, 

Thou wouldst betray me for the precious hilt; 

Either from lust of gold, or like a girl 

Valuing the giddy pleasure of the eyes. 

Yet, for a man may fail in duty twice, 

And the third time may prosper, get thee hence: 

But, if thou spare to fling Excalibur, 

I will arise and slay thee with my hands." 

Then quickly rose Sir Bedivere, and ran. 
And, leaping down the ridges lightly, plunged 
Among the bulrush-beds, and clutched the sword. 
And strongly wheeFd and threw it. The great brand 
Made lightnings in the splendour of the moon, 
And flashing round and round, and whirl'd in an arch, 
Shot like a streamer of the northern morn, 
Seen where the moving isles of winter shock 
By night, with noises of the northern sea. 
So flash'd and fell the brand Excalibur: 
But ere he dipt the surface, rose an arm 
Clothed in white samite, mystic, wonderful, 
And caught him by the hilt, and brandished him 
Three times, and drew him under in the mere. 
And Ughtly went the other to the King. 

Then spoke King Arthur, drawing thicker breath: 
"Now see I by thine eyes that this is done. 
Speak out: what is it thou hast heard, or seen?" 

And answer made the bold Sir Bedivere: 
"Sir King, I closed mine eyelids, lest the gems 
Should blind my purpose, for I never saw. 
Nor shall see, here or elsewhere, till I die. 
Not tho' I live three lives of mortal men, 
So great a miracle as yonder hilt. 
Then with both hands I flung him, wheeling him; 
But when I look'd again, behold an arm, 
Clothed in white samite, mystic, wonderful, 



LORD TENNYSON 121 



That caught him by the hilt, and brandished him 
Three times, and drew him under in the mere." 

And answer made King Arthur, breathing hard: 
"My end draws nigh; 'tis time that I were gone. 
Make broad thy shoulders to receive my weight, 
And bear me to the margin; yet I fear 
My wound hath taken cold, and I shall die." 

So saying, from the pavement he half rose, 
Slowly, with pain, reclining on his arm, 
And looking wistfully with wide blue eyes 
As in a picture. Him Sir Bedivere 
Remorsefully regarded thro' his tears, 
And would have spoken, but he found not words. 
Then took with care, and kneeling on one knee. 
O'er both his shoulders drew the languid hands. 
And rising bore him thro' the place of tombs. 



>cJlysses 

It little profits that an idle king. 

By this still hearth, among these barren crags, 

Match 'd with an aged wife, I mete and dole 

Unequal laws unto a savage race. 

That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me. 

I cannot rest from travel: I will drink 
Life to the lees: all times I have enjoy 'd 
Greatly, have suffer'd greatly, both with those 
That loved me, and alone; on shore, and when 
Thro' scudding drifts the rainy Hyades 
Vext the dim sea: I am become a name; 
For always roaming with a hungry heart 
Much have I seen aild known; cities of men 
And manners, climates, councils, governments, 
Myself not least, but honour'd of them all; 
And drunk delight of battle with my peers. 
Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy. 
I am a part of all that I have met; 
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro' 
Gleams that untravell'd world, whose margin fades 
For ever and for ever when I move. 



122 THE ENGLISH POETS 

How dull it is to pause, to make an end, 
To rust unbumish'd, not to shine in use! 
As tho' to breathe were life. Life piled on life 
Were all too little, and of one to me 
Little remains: but every hour is saved 
From that eternal silence, something more, 
A bringer of new things; and vile it were 
For some three suns to store and hoard myself, 
And this grey spirit yearning in desire 
To follow knowledge like a sinking star, 
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought. 
This is my son, mine own Telemachus, 
To whom I leave the sceptre and the isle — 
Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfil 
This labour, by slow prudence to make mild 
A rugged people, and thro' soft degrees 
Subdue them to the useful and the good. 
Most blameless is he, centred in the sphere 
Of common duties, decent not to fail 
In offices of tenderness, and pay 
Meet adoration to my household gods, 
When I am gone. He works his work, I mine. 
There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail: 
There gloom the dark broad seas. My mariners, 
Souls that have toil'd, and wrought, and thought with me — 
That ever with a frolic welcome took 
The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed 
Free hearts, free foreheads — ^you and I are old; 
Old age hath yet his honour and his toil; 
Death closes all: but something ere the end. 
Some work of noble note, may yet be done, 
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods. 
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks: 
The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep 
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends, 
'Tis not too late to seek a newer world. 
Push off, and sitting well in order smite 
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds 
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths 
Of all the western stars, until I die. 
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down: 



LORD TENNYSON 123 



It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles, 

And see the great Achilles, whom we knew. 

Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho' 

We are not now that strength which in old days 

Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are; 

One equal temper of heroic hearts, 

Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will 

To strive, to seek, to find, and not to jdeld. 



St. Agnes' Eve 

Deep on the convent-roof the snows 

Are sparkling to the moon: 
My breath to heaven like vapour goes: 

May my soul follow soon! 
The shadows of the convent-towers 

Slant down the snowy sward. 
Still creeping with the creeping hours 

That lead me to my Lord: 
Make Thou my spirit pure and clear 

As are the frosty skies. 
Or this first snowdrop of the year 

That in my bosom lies. 

As these white robes are soil'd and dark, 

To yonder shining ground; 
As this pale taper's earthly spark, 

To yonder argent round; 
So shows my soul before the Lamb, 

My spirit before Thee; 
So in mine earthly house I am, 

To that I hope to be. 
Break up the heavens, O Lord! and far, 

Thro' all yon starlight keen, 
Draw me, thy bride, a glittering star, 

In raiment white and clean. 

He lifts me to the golden doors; 

The flashes come and go; 
All heaven bursts her starry floors, 

And strows her lights below. 



124 THE ENGLISH POETS 

And deepens on and up! the gates 

Roll back, and far within 
For me the Heavenly Bridegroom waits, 

To make me pure of sin. 
The sabbaths of Eternity, 

One sabbath deep and wide — 
A light upon the shining sea — 

The Bridegroom with his bride! 



^ Break, Break, Break 

Break, break, break, 

On thy cold gray stones, O Sea! 
And I would that my tongue could utter 

The thoughts that arise in me. 

O well for the fisherman's boy, 
That he shouts with his sister at play! 

O well for the sailor lad, 
That he sings in his boat on the bay! 

And the stately ships go on 
To their haven under the hill; 

But O for the touch of a vanished hand. 
And the sound of a voice that is still! 

Break, break, break, 

At the foot of thy crags, O Sea! 
But the tender grace of a day that is dead 

Will never come back to me. 



LORD TENNYSON 125 



[From The Princess] 

I 

V The Splendour Falls on Castle Walls 

The splendour falls on castle walls 

And snowy summits old in story: 
The long light shakes across the lakes, 
And the wild cataract leaps in glory. 
Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying, 
Blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying. 

O hark, O hear! how thin and clear, 

And thinner, clearer, farther going! 
O sweet and far from cliff and scar 
The horns of Elfland faintly blowing! 
Blow, let us hear the purple glens replying: 
Blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying. 

O love, they die in yon rich sky, 

They faint on hill or field or river: 
Our edioes roll from soul to soul. 
And grow for ever and for ever. 
Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying. 
And answer, echoes, answer, dying, dying, dying. 



^ Tears, Idle Tears 

Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean. 
Tears from the depth of some divine despair 
Rise in the heart, and gather to the eyes. 
In looking on the happy Autumn-fields, 
And thinking of the days that are no more. 

Fresh as the first beam glittering on a sail, 
That brings our friends up from the underworld. 
Sad as the last which reddens over one 
That sinks with all we love below the verge; 
So sad, so fresh, the days that are no more. 



126 THE ENGLISH POETS 

Ah, sad and strange as in dark summer dawns 
The earliest pipe of half-awaken'd birds 
To dying ears, when imto dying eyes 
The casement slowly grows a glimmering sqxiare; 
So sad, so strange, the days that are no more. 

Dear as remembered kisses after death, 
And sweet as those by hopeless fancy feign'd 
On lips that are for others; deep as love. 
Deep as first love, and wild with all regret; 
O Death in Life, the days that are no more. 



[From In Memoriam] 
XIX 

The Danube to the Severn gave 

The darkened heart that beat no more; 

They laid him by the pleasant shore. 
And in the hearing of the wave. 

There twice a day the Severn fills; 
The salt sea-water passes by, 
And hushes half the babbling Wye, 

And makes a silence in the hills. 

The Wye is hush'd nor moved along. 
And hush'd my deepest grief of all, 
When filled with tears that cannot fall, 

I brim with sorrow drowning song. 

The tide flows down, the wave again 

Is vocal in its wooded walls; 

My deeper anguish also falls. 
And I can speak a little then. 

XXXV 

Yet if some voice that man could trust 

Should murmur from the narrow house, 
"The cheeks drop in; the body bows; 

Man dies: nor is there hope in dust:" 



LORD TENNYSON 127 



Might I not say? "Yet even here, 

But for one hour, O Love, I strive 
To keep so sweet a thing alive:" 

But I should turn mine ears and hear 

The moanings of the homeless sea, 

The sound of streams that swift or slow 
Dkiw down iEonian hills, and sow 

The dust of continents to be; 

And Love would answer with a sigh, 
"The sound of that forgetful shore 
Will change my sweetness more and more. 

Half-dead to know that I shall die." 

O me, what profits it to put 

An idle case? Af Death were seen 
At first as Death, Love had not been, 

Or been in narrowest working shut. 

Mere fellowship of sluggish moods, 

Or in his coarsest Satyr-shape 

Had bruised the herb and crush 'd the grape. 
And bask'd and battened in the woods. T 

LIV 

N^ Oh yet we trust that somehow good 
Will be the final goal of ill, 
To pangs of nature, sins of will. 
Defects of doubt, and taints of blood; 

(That nothing walks with aimless feet; 

That not one life shall be destroy 'd. 

Or cast as rubbish to the void, 
I When God hath made the pile complete; 

/That not a worm is cloven in vain; 

/ That not a moth with vain desire 
/ Is shriveird in a fruitless fire, 

. Or but subserves another's gain. 



128 THE ENGLISH POETS 

Behold, we know not anything; 

I can but trust that good shall fall 
At last — far oflF — at last, to all, 

And every winter change to spring. 

So runs my dream: but what am I? 
An infant crying in the night: 



^ 



An infant crying for the light :V Jf ^ 
And with no language but a cry. ^"^^^ 



ax 

Heart-affluence in discursive talk 

From household fountains never dry; 
The critic clearness of an eye. 

That saw thro' all the Muses' walk; 

Seraphic intellect and force 

To seize and throw the doubts of man; 

Impassion'd logic, which outran 
The hearer in its fiery coursej 

High nature amorous of the good, 

But touched with no ascetic gloom; 
And passion pure in snowy bloom 

Thro' all the years of April blood; 

A love of freedom rarely felt, 
Of freedom in her regal seat 
Of England; not the schoolboy heat, 

The blind hysterics of the Celt; 

And manhood fused with female grace 
In such a sort, the child would twine 
A trustful hand, unask'd, in thine, 

And find his comfort in thy face; 

All these have been, and thee mine eyes 
Have look'd on: if they look'd in vain. 
My shame is greater who remain, 

Nor let thy wisdom make me wise. 



LORD TENNYSON 129 



cxxm 

^ /There rolls the deep where grew the tree7 

M^ ^ O earth, what changes hast thou seskl 
V^ There where the long street roars, hath been 

^ CUiOr Crhe stillness of the central sea. 

' "^ *^^ ,^The hills are shadows, and they flow 
I -<*'j|. 1^ . ^ From form to form, and nothing stands; 

* ^^^ ^ They melt like mist, the solid lands, 

^ J^ Like clouds they shape themselves and go* 



&-,<y^ 



f 



But in my spirit will I dwell. 

And dream my dream, and hold it true; 

For tho' my lips may breathe adieu, 
I cannot think the thing farewell. 



[From Maud, Part T, xviii] 

I 

I have led her home, my love, my only friend. 

There is none like her, none. 

And never yet so warmly ran my blood 

And sweetly, on and on 

Calming itself to the long-wish'd-for end. 

Full to the banks, close on the promised good. 

n 

None like her, none. 

Just now the dry-tongued laurels' pattering talk 

Seem'd her light foot along the garden walk. 

And shook my heart to think she comes once more; 

But even then I heard her close the door. 

The gates of Heaven are closed, and she is gone. 

in 

There is none like her, none. 

Nor will be when our summers have deceased. 

O, art thou sighing for Lebanon 

In the long breeze that streams to thy delicious East, 

Sighing for Lebanon, 

Dark cedar, tho' thy limbs have here increased. 



I30 THE ENGLISH POETS 

Upon a pastoral slope as fair, 

And looking to the South, and fed 

With honeyed rain and delicate air, 

And haunted by the starry head 

Of her whose gentle will has changed my fate, 

And made my life a perfumed altar-flame; 

And over whom thy darkness must have spread 

With such delight as theirs of old, thy great 

Forefathers of the thornless garden, there 

Shadowing the snow-limb*d Eve from whom she came. 

IV 

Here will I lie, while these long branches sway, 

And you fair stars that crown a happy day 

Go in and out as if at merry play. 

Who am no more so all forlorn. 

As when it seem'd far better to be born 

To labour and the m^tock-harden'd hand. 

Than nursed at ease and brought to understand 

A sad astrology, the boundless plan 

That makes you tyrants in your iron skies, 

Innvunerable, pitiless, passionless eyes. 

Cold fires, yet with power to bum and brand 

His nothingness into man. 



But now shine on, and what care I, 
Who in this stormy gulf have found a pearl 
The countercharm of space and hollow sky. 
And do accept my madness, and would die 
To save from some slight shame one simple girl. 

VI 

Would die; for sullen-seeming Death may give 

More life to Love than is or ever was 

In our low world, where yet 'tis sweet to live. 

Let no one ask me how it came to pass; 

It seems that I am happy, that to me 

A livelier emerald twinkles in the grass, 

A purer sapphire melts into the sea. 



LORD TENNYSON 131 



vn 

Not die; but live a life of truest breath, 
And teach true life to fight with mortal wrongs. 
O, why should Love, like men in drinking-songs, 
Spice his fair banquet with the dust of death? 
Make answer, Maud my bliss, 
Maud made my Maud by that long loving kiss. 
Life of my life, wilt thou not answe r this?^ 
/^'The dusky strand of Death inwoven here 
i^ith dear Love's tie, makes Love himself more dear.y 

vm 

Is that enchanted moan only the swell 

Of the long waves that roll in yonder bay? 

And hark the dock within, the silver knell 

Of twelve sweet hours that past in bridal white, 

And died to live, long as my pulses play; 

But now by this my love has closed her sight 

And given false death her hand, and stoPn away 

To dreamful wastes where footless fancies dwell 

Among the fragments of the golden day. 

May nothing there her maiden grace affright! 

Dear heart, I feel with thee the drowsy spell. 

My bride to be, my evermore delight, 

My own heart's heart, my ownest own, farewell; 

It is but for a little space I go: 

And ye meanwhile far over moor and fell 

Beat to the noiseless music of the night! 

Has our whole earth gone nearer to the glow 

Of your soft splendours that you look so bright? 

/ have climb'd nearer out of lonely Hell. 

Beat, happy stars, timing with things below. 

Beat with my heart more blest than heart can tell, 

Blest, but for some dark undercurrent woe 

That seems to draw — ^but it shall not be so: 

Let all be well, be well. 



-^.'^ 



132 THE ENGLISH POETS 



The Brook 

I come from haimts of coot and hem, 

I make a sudden sally, 
And sparkle out among the fern, 

To bicker down a valley. 

By thirty hills I hurry down, 
Or slip between the ridges, 

By twenty thorps, a little town, 
And half a himdred bridges. 

Till last by Philip's farm I flow 
To join the brimming river. 

For men may come and men may go, 
But I go on for ever. 

I chatter over stony ways. 
In little sharps and trebles, 

I bubble into eddying bays, 
I babble on the pebbles. 

With many a curve my banks I fret 
By many a field and fallow. 

And many a fairy foreland set 
With wiUow-weed and mallow. 

I chatter, chatter, as I flow 
To join the brimming river, 

For men may come and men may go, 
But I go on for ever. 

I wind about, and in and out. 
With here a blossom sailing, 

And here and there a lusty trout. 
And here and there a grayling. 

And here and there a foamy flake 

Upon me, as I travel 
With many a silvery waterbreak 

Above the golden gravel, 



LORD TENNYSON 133 

And draw them all along, and flow 

To join the brimming river, 
For men may come and men may go, 

But I go on for ever. 

I steal by lawns and grassy plots, 

I slide by hazel covers; 
I move the sweet forget-me-nots 

That grow for happy lovers. 

I sh'p, I slide, I gloom, I glance. 

Among my skimming swallows; 
I make the netted sunbeam dance 

Against my sandy shallows. 

I murmur imder moon and stars 

In brambly wildernesses; 
I linger by my shingly bars; 

I loiter round my cresses; 

And out again I curve and flow 

To join the brimming river. 
For men may come and men may go, 

But I go on for ever. 



Ode on the Death of the Duke of Wellington 
[Published in 1852] 



Bury the Great Duke 

With an empire's lamentation. 
Let us bury the Great Duke 

To the noise of the mourning of a mighty nation, 
Mourning when their leaders' fall, 
Warriors carry the warrior's pall. 
And sorrow darkens hamlet and hg^ll. 



134 THE ENGLISH POETS 

n 

Where shall we lay the man whom we deplore? 
Here, in streaming London's central roar. 
Let the sound of those he wrought for, 
And the feet of those he fought for, 
Echo roimd his bones for evermore. 

m 

Lead out the pageant: sad and slow, 

As fits an universal woe, 

Let the long procession go. 

And let the sorrowing crowd about it grow. 

And let the mournful martial music blow; 

The last great Englishman is low. 

IV 

Mourn, for to us he seems the last, 
• Remembering all his greatness in the Past. 
No more in soldier fashion will he greet 
With lifted hand the gazer in the street. 
O friends, our chief state-oracle is mute: 
Mourn for the man of long-enduring blood. 
The statesman-warrior, moderate, resolute, 
Whole in himself, a common good. 
Mourn for the man of amplest influence, 
Yet clearest of ambitious crime. 
Our greatest yet with least pretence, 
Great in council and great in war, 
Foremost captain of his time, 
Rich in saving common-sense. 
And, as the greatest only are, 
In his simplicity sublime. 
O good gray head which all men knew, 
O voice from which their omens all men drew, 
O iron nerve to true occasion true, 
O fairn at length that tower of strength 
Which stood four-square to all the winds that blew! 
Such was he whom we deplore. 
The long self-sacrifice of life is o*er. 
The great World-victor's victor will be seen no more. 



LORD TENNYSON 13S 



All is over and done: 

Render thanks to the Giver, 

England, for thy son. 

Let the beU be tolled. 

Render thanks to the Giver, 

And render him to the mould. 

Under the cross of gold 

That shines over city and river. 

There he shall rest for ever 

Among the wise and the bold. 

Let the bell be toll'd: 

And a reverent people behold 

The towering car, the sable steeds: 

Bright let it be with its blazon'd deeds. 

Dark in its fimeral fold. ^ 

Letthebellbetoll'd: 

And a deeper knell in the heart be knoll'd; 

And the sound of the sorrowing anthem roll'd 

Thro' the dome of the golden cross; 

And the vollejdng cannon thunder his loss; 

He knew their voices of old. 

For many a time in many a clime 

His captain's-ear has heard them boom 

Bellowing victory, bellowing doom: 

When he with those deep voices wrought, 

Guarding realms and kings from shame; 

With those deep voices our dead captain taught 

The tyrant, and asserts his claim 

In that dread sound to the great name, 

Which he has worn so pure of blame. 

In praise and in dispraise the same, 

A man of well-attemper'd frame. 

O civic muse, to such a name. 

To such a name for ages long. 

To such a name. 

Preserve a broad approach of fame, 

And ever-echoing avenues of song. 



136 THE ENGLISH POETS 

VI 

Who is he that cometh, like an honoured guest, 
With banner and with music, with soldier and with priest. 
With a nation weeping, and breaking on my rest? 
Mighty Seaman, this is he 
Was great by land as thou by sea. 
Thine island loves thee well, thou famous man. 
The greatest sailor since our world began. 
Now, to the roll of muffled drums. 
To thee the greatest soldier comes; 
For this is he 

Was great by land as thou by sea; 
His foes were thine; he kept us free; 
O give him welcome, this is he 
Worthy of our gorgeous rites, 
And worthy to be laid by thee; 
^ For this is England's greatest son, 
He that gained a hundred fights, 
Nor ever lost an English gun; 
This is he that far away 
Against the myriads of Assaye 
Clashed with his fiery few and won; 
And underneath another sun, 
Warring on a later day. 
Round affrighted Lisbon drew 
The treble works, the vast designs 
Of his laboured rampart-lines. 
Where he greatly stood at bay, 
Whence he issued forth anew, 
And ever great and greater grew, 
Beating from the wasted vines 
Back to France her banded swarms. 
Back to France with countless blows 
Till o'er the hills her eagles flew 
Beyond the Pyrenean pines, 
Followed up in valley and glen 
With blare of bugle, clamour of men, 
Roll of cannon and clash of arms, 
And England pouring on her foes. 
Such a war had such a close. 



LORD TENNYSON 137 



Again their ravening eagle rose 

In anger, wheePd on Europe-shadowing wings, 

And barking for the thrones of kings; 

Till one that sought but Duty's iron crown 

On that loud sabbath shook the spoiler down; 

A day of onsets of despair! 

Dash'd on every rocky square 

Their surging charges foam'd themselves away; 

Last, the Prussian trumpet blew; 

Thro' the long-tormented air 

Heaven flashed a sudden jubilant ray. 

And down we swept and charged and overthrew. 

So great a soldier taught us there. 

What long-enduring hearts could do 

In that world-earthquake, Waterloo! 

Mighty Seaman, tender and true. 

And pure as he from taint of craven guile, 

O saviour of the silver-coasted isle, 

O shaker of the Baltic and the Nile, 

If aught of things that here befall 

Touch a spirit among things divine, 

If love of country move thee there at all, 

Be glad, because his bones are laid by thine! 

And thro' the centuries let a people's voice -^ 

In full acclaim, 

A people's voice. 

The proof and echo of all human fame, 

A people's voice, when they rejoice 

At civic revel and pomp and game, 

Attest their great commander's claim 

With honour, honour, honour, honour to him, 

Eternal honour to his name. 



vn 

A people's voice! we are a people yet. 
Tho' all men else their nobler dreams forget, 
Confused by brainless mobs and lawless Powers; 
Thank Him who isled us here, and roughly set 
His Briton in blown seas and storming showers, 
We have a voice, with which to pay the debt 



138 THE ENGLISH POETS 

Of boundless love and reverence and regret 

To those great men who fought, and kept it ours. 

And keep it ours, O God, from brute control; 

O Statesmen, guard us, guard the eye, the soul 

Of Europe, keep our noble England whole, 

And save the one true seed of freedom sown 

Betwixt a people and their ancient throne, 

That sober freedom out of which there springs 

Our loyal passion for our temperate kings; 

For, saving that, ye help to save mankind 

Till public wrong be crumbled into dust. 

And drill the raw world for the march of mind, 

Till crowds at length be sane and crowns be just. 

But wink no more in slothful overtrust. 

Remember him who led your hosts; 

He bade you guard the sacred coasts. 

Your cannons moulder on the seaward wall; 

His voice is silent in your council-hall 

For ever; and whatever tempests lour 

For ever silent; even if they broke 

In thunder, silent; yet remember all 

He spoke among you, and the Man who spoke; 

Who never sold the truth to serve the hour, 

Nor palter 'd with Eternal God for power; 

Who let the turbid streams of rumour flow 

Thro* either babbling world of high and low; 

Whose life was work, whose language rife 

With rugged maxims hewn from life; 

Who never spoke against a foe; 

Whose eighty winters freeze with one rebuke 

All great self-seekers trampling on the right: 

Truth-teller was our England *s Alfred named; 

Truth-lover was our English Duke; 

Whatever record leap to light 

He never shall be shamed. 



vm 

Lo, the leader in these glorious wars 
Now to glorious burial slowly borne, 
Followed by the brave of other lands, 



LORD TENNYSON 139 



He, on whom from both her open hands 

Lavish Honour shower'd all her stars, 

And affluent Fortune emptied all her horn. 

Yea, let all good things await 

Him who cares not to be great. 

But as he saves or serves the state. 

Not once or twice in our rough island-story, 

The path of duty was the way to glory: 

He that walks it, only thirsting 

For the right, and learns to deaden 

Love of self, before his journey closes. 

He shall find the stubborn thistle bursting 

Into glossy purples, which outredden 

All voluptuous garden-roses. 

Not once or twice in our fair island-story, 

The path of duty was the way to glory: 

He, that ever following her commands. 

On with toil of heart and knees and hands. 

Thro' the long gorge to the far light has won 

His path upward, and prevailed. 

Shall find the toppling crags of Duty scaled 

Are close upon the shining table-lands 

To which our God Himself is moon and sun. 

Such was he: his work is done. 

But while the races of mankind endure, 

Let his great example stand 

Colossal, seen of every land, 

And keep the soldier firm, the statesman pure: 

Till in all lands and thro' all human story 

The path of duty be the way to glory: 

And let the land whose hearths he saved from shame 

For many and many an age proclaim 

At civic revel and pomp and game. 

And when the long-illumined cities flame. 

Their ever-loyal iron leader's fame. 

With honour, honour, honour, honour to him. 

Eternal honour to his name. 



DC 

Peace, his triiunph will be sung 
By some yet unmoulded tongue 



I40 THE ENGLISH POETS 

Far on in summers that we shall not see: 

Peace, it is a day of pain 

For one about whose patriarchal knee 

Late the little children clung: 

O peace, it is a day of pain 

For one, upon whose hand and heart and brain 

Once the weight and fate of Europe hung. 

Ours the pain, be his the gain! 

More than is of man's degree 

Must be with us, watching here 

At this, our great solemnity. 

Whom we see not we revere; 

We revere, and we refrain 

From talk of battles loud and vain, 

And brawling memories all too free 

For such a wise humility 

As befits a solemn fane: 

We revere, and while we hear 

The tides of Music's golden sea 

Setting toward eternity, 

Uplifted high in heart and hope are we, 

Until we doubt not that for one so true 

There must be other nobler work to do 

Than when he fought at Waterloo, 

And Victor he must ever be. 

For tho' the Giant Ages heave the hill 

And break the shore, and evermore 

Make and break, and work their will; 

Tho' world on world in myriad myriads roll 

Round us, each with different powers. 

And other forms of life than ours, 

What know we greater than the soul? 

On God and Godlike men we build our trust. 

Hush, the Dead March wails in the people's ears: 

The dark crowd moves, and there are sobs and tears: 

The black earth yawns: the mortal disappears; 

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust; 

He is gone who seem'd so great. — 

Gone; but nothing can bereave him 

Of the force he made his own 

Being here, and we believe him 



LORD TENNYSON 141 



Something far advanced in State, 

And that he wears a truer crown 

Than any wreath that man can weave him. 

Speak no more of his renown, 

Lay your earthly fancies down, 

And in the vast cathedral leave him. 

God accept him, Christ receive him. 



The Charge of the Light Brigade 



Half a league, half a league, 
Half a league onward, 

All in the valley of Death 
Rode the six himdred. 

"Forward, the Light Brigade! 

Charge for the guns!" he said: 

Into the valley of Death 
Rode the six hundred. 



"Forward, the Light Brigade!" 
Was there a man dismayed? 
Not tho' the soldier knew 

Some one had blunder'd: 
Their's not to make reply, 
Their's not to reason why, 
Their's but to do and die: 
Into the valley of Death 

Rode the six hundred. 

m 



Cannon to right of them, 
Cannon to left of them. 
Cannon in front of them 
Volley 'd and thundered; 



142 THE ENGLISH POETS 

Storm'd at with shot and shell, 
Boldly they rode and well, 
Into the jaws of Death, 
Into the mouth of Hell 
Rode the six hundred. 

IV 

Plashed all their sabres bare, 
Flashed as they tum'd in air 
Sabring the gunners there, 
Charging an army, while 

All the world wondered: 
Plunged in the battery-smoke 
Right thro' the line they broke; 
Cossack and Russian 
ReePd from the sabre-stroke 

Shattered and sundered. 
Then they rode back, but not 

Not the six hundred. 



Cannon to right of them. 
Cannon to left of them, 
Cannon behind them 

Volley 'd and thunder'd; 
Storm'd at with shot and shell. 
While horse and hero fell. 
They that had fought so well 
Came thro' the jaws of Death, 
Back from the mouth of Hell, 
All that was left of them, 

Left of six hundred. 

VI 

When can their glory fade? 
O the wild charge they made! 

All the world wonder'd. 
Honour the charge they made! 
Honour the Light Brigade, 

Noble six hundred! 



LORD TENNYSON 143 



Northern Farmer 
Old Style 



Wheer 'asta bean saw long and mea liggin' 'ere aloan? 
Noorse? tbourt nowt o* a noorse: whoy, Doctor's abean an* dgoan: 
Says that I moant 'a naw moor aale: but I beant a fool: 
Git ma my aale, fur I beant a-gawin' to break my rule. 

n 

Doctors, they knaws nowt, fur a says what *s nawways true: 
Naw soort o' koind o' use to saay the things that a do. 
I Ve 'ed my point o' aale ivry noight sin' I bean 'ere, 
An' I 've 'ed my quart ivry market-noight for foorty year. 

m 

Parson 's a bean loikewoise, an' a sittin' 'ere o' my bed. 

**The amoighty 's a taakin o' you ^ to 'issen, my friend," a said. 

An' a towdma my sins, an 's toithe were due, an' I gied it in 

bond; 
I done moy duty boy 'uim, as I 'a done boy the lond. 

IV 

Lam'd a ma' bea. I reckons I 'annot sa mooch to larn. 

But a cast oop, thot a did, 'bout Bessy Harris's barne. 

Thaw a knaws I hallus voated wi' Squoire an' choorch and staate. 

An' i' the woost o' toimes I wur niver agin the raate. 



An' I hallus coom'd to 's choorch afoor moy Sally wur dead, 
An' 'eard 'um a bummin' awaay loike a buzzard-clock ' ower my 

'ead. 
An' I niver knaw'd whot a mean'd, but I thowt a'ad summut to 

sasly. 
An' I thowt a said whot a owt to 'a said an' I coom'd awaay. 

^ ou as in hour. ' Cockchafer. 



144 THE ENGLISH POETS 

VI 

Bessy Marris's bame! tha knaws she laaid it to mea. 
Mowt a bean, mayhap, for she wur a bad un, shea. 
'Siver, I kep 'um, I kep 'mn, my lass, tha mun understond; 
I done moy duty boy 'um as I ' a done boy the lond. 

vn 

But Parson a cooms an* a goas, an' a says it easy an' freea 
"The amoighty's a taakin o' you to 'iss6n, my friend," says 'ea. 
I weant saay men be loiars, thaw summun said it in 'aaste: 
But 'e reads wonn sarmin a weeak, an' I 'a stubb'd Thurnaby 
waaste. 

vm 

D'ya moind the waate, my lass? naw, naw, tha was not bom then; 
Theer wur a boggle in it, I often 'eard 'um mysen; 
Moast loike a butter-bump,^ fur I 'eard 'um about an' about. 
But I stubb'd 'um poo wi' the lot, an' raaved an' rembled 'um out. 

DC 

Reaper's it wur; fo' they fun 'um theer a-laaid of 'is faace 
Down i' the woild 'enemies * afoor I coom'd to the plaace. 
Noaks or Thimbleby — ^toaner » 'ed shot 'um as dead as a naail. 
Noaks wur 'ang'd for it oop at 'soize — ^but git ma my aale. 



Dubbut loook at the waaste: theer warn't not feead for a cow; 
Nowt at all but bracken an' fuzz, an' loodk at it now — 
Warnt worth nowt a haacre, an' now theer 's lots of feead, 
Fourscoor * yows upon it an' some on it down i' seead. 

XI 

Nobbut a bit on it 's left, an' I mean'd to 'a stubb'd it at fall, 
Done it ta-year I mean'd, an' nmn'd plow thruflF it an' all, 
If godamoighty an' parson 'ud nobbut let ma aloan, 
Mea, wi' haate hoonderd haacre o' Squoire's, an' lond o' my ©an 

^ Bittern. * Anemones. » One or other. 

^ ou as in hour. 



LORD TENNYSON 145 



xn 



Do godamoighty knaw what a 's doing a-taakin' o' meH? 

I beant wonn as saws 'ere a bean an' yonder a pea; 

An' Squoire 'ull be sa mad an' all — a' dear a' dear! 

And I 'a managed for Squoire coom Michaelmas thutty year. 



xm 

A mowt *a taaen owd Joanes, as 'ant nor a 'aopoth o' sense, 
Or a mowt 'a taaen young Robins — ^a niver mended a fence: 
But godamoighty a moost taake mea an' tasLke ma now 
Wi' aaf the cows to cauve an' Thumaby hoalms to plow! 

XIV 

Loook 'ow quoloty smoiles when they seeas ma a passin' boy, 

Says to thessen naw doubt "what a man a bea sewer-loy!" 

Fur they knaws what I bean to Squoire sin fust a coom'd to the 

'All; 
I done moy duty by Squoire an' I done moy duty boy hall. 

XV 

Squoire's i' Lunnon, an' summun I reckons 'ull 'a to wroite, 
For whoa 's to howd the lond ater mea thot muddles ma quoit; 
Sartin-sewer I bea, thot a weant niver give it to Joanes, 
Naw, nor a moant to Robins — a niver rembles the stoans. 

XVI 

But sunmiun '11 come ater mea mayhap wi' 'is kittle o' steam 
Huzzin' an' maazin' the blessed f ealds wi' the Divil's oan team. 
Sin' I mun doy I mun doy, thaw loife they says is sweet. 
But sin' I mun doy I mun doy, for I couldn abear to see it. 

xvn 

What atta stannin' theer fur, an' doesn bring ma the aiUe? 
Doctor 's a 'toattler, lass, an a 's hallus i' the owd taale; 
I weant break rules fur Doctor, a knaws naw moor nor a floy ; 
Git ma my aale I tell tha, an' if I mun doy I mun doy. 



146 THE ENGLISH POETS 



TrraoNUS 

The woods decay, the woods decay and fall, 

The vapours weep their burthen to the groimd, 

Man comes and tills the field and lies beneath. 

And after many a sunmier dies the swan. 

Me only cruel immortality 

Consumes: I wither slowly in thine arms, 

Here at the quiet limit of the world, 

A white-hair'd shadow roaming like a dream 

The ever-silent spaces of the East, 

Far-folded mists, and gleaming halls of mom. 

Alas! for this gray shadow, once a man — 
So glorious in his beauty and thy choice, 
Who madest him thy chosen, that he seem'd 
To his great heart none other than a God! 
I ask'd thee, "Give me immortality." 
Then didst thou grant mine asking with a smile, 
Like wealthy men who care not how they give. 
But thy strong Hours indignant worked their wills. 
And beat me down and marr'd and wasted me. 
And tho' they could not end me, left me maim'd 
To dwell in presence of immortal youth, 
Lnmortal age beside immortal youth. 
And all I was, in ashes. Can thy love. 
Thy beauty, make amends, tho' even now. 
Close over us, the silver star, thy guide. 
Shines in those tremulous eyes that fill with tears 
To hear me? Let me go: take back thy gift: 
Why should a man desire in any way 
To vary from the kindly race of men. 
Or pass beyond the goal of ordinance 
Where all should pause, as is most meet for all? 

A soft air fans the cloud apart; there comes 
A glimpse of that dark world where I was bom. 
Once more the old mysterious glimmer steals 
From thy pure brows, and from thy shoulders pure. 
And bosom beating with a heart renewed. 



LORD TENNYSON 147 

Thy cheek begins to redden thro* the gloom, 
Thy sweet eyes brighten slowly close to mine, 
Ere yet they blind the stars, and the wild team 
Which love thee, yearning for thy yoke, arise, 
And shake the darkness from their loosen'd manes, 
And beat the twilight into flakes of fire. 

Lo! ever thus thou growest beautiful 
In silence, then before thine answer given 
Departest, and thy tears are on my cheek. 

Why wilt thou ever scare me with thy tears, 
And make me tremble lest a saying learnt. 
In dajrs far-oflF, on that dark earth, be true? 
"The Gods themselves cannot recall their gifts." 

Ay me! ay me! with what another heart 
In days far-oflF, and with what other eyes 
I used to watch — ^if I be he that watch*d — 
The lucid outline forming round thee; saw 
The dim curls kindle into sunny rings; 
Changed with thy mystic change, and felt my blood 
Glow with the glow that slowly crimsoned all 
Thy presence and thy portals, while I lay. 
Mouth, forehead, eyelids, growing dewy-warm 
With kisses balmier than half-opening buds 
Of April, and could hear the lips that kiss'd 
Whispering I knew not what of wild and sweet, 
Like that strange song I heard Apollo sing, 
While Lion like a mist rose into towers. 



Yet hold me not for ever in thine East: 
How can my nature longer mix with thine? 
Coldly thy rosy shadows bathe me, cold 
Are all thy lights, and cold my wrinkled feet 
Upon thy glimmering thresholds, when the steam 
Floats up from those dim fields about the homes 
Of happy men that have the power to die, 
And grassy barrows of the happier dead. 



148 THE ENGLISH POETS 

Release me, and restore me to the ground; 
Thou seest all things, thou wilt see my grave: 
Thou wilt renew thy beauty mom by mom; 
I earth in earth forget these empty courts, 
And thee retuming on thy silver wheels. 



Milton 

(Alcaics) 

O mighty-mouth'd inventor of harmpnies, 
O skilUd to sing of Time or Etemity, 
God-gifted organ-voice of England, 
Milton, a name to resound for ages; 
Whose Titan angels, Gabriel, Abdiel, 
Starr 'd from Jehovah's gorgeous amiouries, 
Tower, as the deep-domed empyreaji 
Rings to the roar of an angel onset — 
""Me rather all that bowery loneliness. 
The brooks of Eden mazily murmuring. 
And bloom profuse and cedar arches 
Charm, as a wanderer out in ocean, 
Where some refulgent sunset of India 
Streams o'er a rich ambrosial ocean isle. 
And crimson-hued the stately palm-woods 
Whisper in odorous heights of even. 



The Sailor Boy ^ ' ^* ^^ '>''^' '^ 

He rose at dawn and, fired with hope. 
Shot o'er the seething harbour-bar. 
And reach'd the ship and caught the rope, 
^ And whistled to the morning star. . 

- '■ ■ - '' ' . ' ^ ^ ' ' * i 
And while he whistled long and touci ' 

He heard a fierce mermaiden cry, 
"O boy, tho' thou art young and proud, 

I see the place where thou wilt lie. 



LORD TENNYSON 149 



"The sands and yeasty surges mix 
In caves about the dreary bay, 

And on thy ribs the limpet sticks, 
And in thy heart the scrawl shall play." 



/ 



"Fool," he answered, "death is sure 
To those that stay and those that roam, 

But I will nevermore endure 
To sit with empty hands at home. 

"My mother clings about my neck. 
My sisters crying, 'Stay for shame;' 

My father raves of death and wreck. 
They are all to blame, they are all to blame. 

"God help me! save I take my part 

Of danger on the roaring sea, 
A devil rises in my heart, 

Far worse than any death to me." 



[From IdyUs of the King: Guinevere] 
Arthur's Farewell 

He paused, and in the pause she crept an inch 
Nearer, and laid her hands about his feet. 
Far oflF a solitary trumpet blew. 
Then waiting by the doors the warhorse neigh'd 
As at a friend's voice, and he spake again: 

"Yet think not that I come to urge thy crimes, 
I did not come to curse thee, Guinevere, 
I, whose vast pity almost makes me die 
To see thee, laying there thy golden head, 
My pride. in happier sunmiers, at my feet. 
The wrath which forced my thoughts on that fierce law, 
The doom of treason and the flaming death, 
(When first I learnt thee hidden here) is past. 
The pang— which while I weigh 'd thy heart with one 
Too wholly true to dream untruth in thee, 
Made my tears bum — is also past — in part. 
And all is past, the sin is sinn'd, and I, 



ISO THE ENGLISH POETS 

Lo! I forgive thee, as Eternal God 
Forgives: do thou for thine own soul the rest. 
But how to take last leave of all I loved? 

golden hair, with which I used to play 
Not knowing! O imperial-moulded form, 
And beauty such as never woman wore. 
Until it came a kingdom's curse with thee — 

1 cannot touch thy lips, they are not mine, 

But Lancelot's: nay, they never were the King's. * 

I cannot take thy hand; that too is flesh. 

And in the flesh thou hast sinn'd; and mine own flesh. 

Here looking down on thine polluted, cries 

*I loathe thee:' yet not less, O Guinevere, 

For I was ever virgin save for thee. 

My love thro' flesh hath wrought into my life 

So far, that my doom is, I love thee still. 

Let no man dream but that I love thee still. 

Perchance, and so thou purify thy soul, 

And so thou lean on our fair father Christ, 

Hereafter in that world where all are pure 

We two may meet before high God, and thou 

Wilt spring to me, and claim me thine, and know 

I am thine husband — ^not a smaller soul, 

Nor Lancelot, nor another. Leave me that, 

I charge thee, my last hope. Now must I hence. 

Thro' the thick night I hear the trumpet blow: 

They sunmion me their King to lead mine hosts 

Far down to that great battle in the west. 

Where I must strike against the man they call 

My sister's son — ^no kin of mine, who leagues 

With Lords of the White Horse, heathen, and knights. 

Traitors — and strike him dead, and meet myself 

Death, or I know not what mysterious doom. 

And thou remaining here wilt learn the event; 

But hither shall I never come again. 

Never lie by thy side; see thee no more — 

Farewell!" 

And while she grovell'd at his feet, 
She felt the King's breath wander o'er her neck. 
And in the darkness o'er her fallen head, 
Perceived the waving of his hands that blest. 



LORD TENNYSON 151 



The Revenge 
A Ballad of the Fleet 



At Flores in the Azores Sir Richard Grenville lay, ^ 

And a pinnace, like a fluttered bird, came flying from far away: CI 

"Spanish ships of war at sea^we have sighted fifty-three!^ 

Then sware Lord Thomas Howard-^ Tore God I am no coward; <. 

But I cannot meet them here^or my ships are out of gear, ^ 

And the half my men are sick."^ must fly, but follow quick. ^ 

We are six ships of the line; can we fight with fifty-three?^ 



Then spake Sir Richard Grenville: "I know you are no coward;^ 

You fly them for a moment to fight with them again. «^ 

But IVe ninety men and more that are lying sick ashore. "C 

I should count myself the coward if I left them, my Lord Howard,^ 

To these Inquisition dogs and the devildoms of Spain. "«^ 



in 

So Lord Howard past away with five ships of war that day, ^ 

Till he melted like a cloud in the silent sununer heaven; J^ 

But Sir Richard bore in hand all his sick men from the land C 

Very carefully and slow, ^ a 

Men of Bideford in Devon, Jk 

And we laid them on the ballast down below; /^ 

For we brought them all aboard, JL ^ 

And they blest him in their pain, that they were not left to Spain, < 

To the tiiiunbscrew and the stake, for the glory of the Lord, -j^ / 



rv 

He had only a hundred seamen to work the ship and to fight, 
And he sailed away from Flores till the Spaniard came in sight, 
With his huge sea-castles heaving upon the weather bow. 
"Shall we fight or shall we fly? 
Good Sir Richard, tell us now. 
For to fight is but to die! 



152 THE ENGLISH POETS 

There '11 be little of us left by the time this sun be set." 
And Sir Richard said again: "We be all good English men. 
Let us bang these dogs of Seville, the children of the devil, 
For I never tum'd my back upon Don or devil yet." 



Sir Richard spoke and he laugh'd, and we roar'd a hurrah, and so 
The Uttle Revenge ran on sheer into the heart of the foe, 
With her hundred fighters on deck, and her ninety sick below; 
For half of their fleet to the right and half to the left were seen, 
And the httle Revenge ran on thro' the long sea-lane between. 

VI 

Thousands of their soldiers looked down from their decks and 

laugh'd. 
Thousands of their seamen made mock at the mad little craft 
Running on and on, till delayed 

By their mountain-like San Philip that, of fifteen hundred tons. 
And up-shadowing high above us with her yawning tiers of guns, 
Took the breath from our sails, and we stay'd. 

vn 

And while now the great San Philip hung above us like a cloud 

Whence the thimderbolt will fall 

Long and loud, 

Four galleons drew away 

From the Spanish fleet that day, 

And two upon the larboard and two upon the starboard lay, 

And the battle-thunder broke from them all. 



vni 

But anon the great San Philip, she bethought herself and went 

Having that within her womb that had left her ill content; 

And the rest they came aboard us, and they fought us hand to 

hand. 
For a dozen times they came with their pikes and musqueteers, 
And a dozen times we shook 'em off as a dog that shakes his ears. 
When he leaps from the water to the land. 



LORD TENNYSON 153 



DC 

And the sun went down, and the stars came out far over the sum- 
mer sea, 

But never a moment ceased the fight of the one and the fifty- 
three. 

Ship after ship, the whole night long, their high-built galleons 
came, 

Ship after ship, the whole night long, with her battle- thunder and 
fiame; 

Ship after ship, the whole night long, drew back with her dead 
and her shame. 

For some were simk and many were shattered, and so could fight us 
no more — 

God of battles, was ever a battle like this in the world before? 



For he said "Fight on! fight on!'* 

Tho* his vessel was all but a wreck; 

And it chanced that, when half of the short summer night was 

gone, 
With a grisly wound to be drest he had left the deck. 
But a bullet struck him that was dressing it suddenly dead, 
And himself he was wounded again in the side and the head. 
And he said "Fight on! fight on!" 

XI 

And the night went down, and the sun smiled out far over the 

siunmer sea. 
And the Spanish fleet with broken sides lay round us all in a 

ring; 
But they dared not touch us again, for they fear'd that we still 

could sting. 
So they watch 'd what the end would be. 
And we had not fought them in vain, 
But in perilous plight were we. 
Seeing forty of our poor hundred were slain, 
And half of the rest of us maim'd for life 
In the crash of the cannonades and the desperate strife; 



154 THE ENGLISH POETS 

And the sick men down in the hold were most of them stark and 

cold, 
And the pikes were all broken or bent, and the powder was all 

of it spent; 
And the masts and the rigging were lying over the side; 
But Sir Richard cried in his English pride, 
"We have fought such a fight for a day and a night 
As may never be fought again! 
We have won great glory, my men! 
And a day less or more 
At sea or ashore. 
We die — does it matter when? 

Sink me the ship. Master Gunner — sink her, split her in twain! 
Fall into the hands of God, not into the hands of Spain!" 

xn 

And the gunner said "Ay, ay," but the seamen made reply: 

"We have children, we have wives. 

And the Lord hath spared our lives. 

We will make the Spaniard promise, if we yield, to let us go; 

We shall live to fight again and to strike another blow." 

And the lion there lay dying, and they yielded to the foe. 

xm 

And the stately Spanish men to their flagship bore him then. 
Where they laid him by the mast, old Sir Richard caught at last, 
And they praised him to his face with their courtly foreign grace; 
But he rose upon their decks, and he cried: 
"I have fought for Queen and Faith like a valiant man and true; 
I have only done my duty as a man is bound to do: 
With a joyful spirit I Sir Richard Grenville die!" 
And he fell upon their decks, and he died. 

/ XIV 

And they stared at the dead that had been so valiant and true. 
And had holden the power and glory of Spain so cheap 
That he dared her with one little ship and his English few; 
Was he devil or man? He was devil for aught they knew. 
But they sank his body with honour down into the deep. 



LORD TENNYSON 155 



And they manned the Revenge with a swarthier alien crew, 

And away she sail'd with her loss and long'd for her own; 

When a wind from the lands they had ruin'd awoke from sleep. 

And the water began to heave and the weather to moan, 

And or ever that evening ended a great gale blew, 

And a wave like the wave that is raised by an earthquake grew, 

Till it smote on their hulls and their sails and their masts and their 

flags. 
And the whole sea plunged and fell on the shot-shattered navy of 

Spain, 
And the little Revenge herself went down by the island crags 
To be lost evermore in the main. 

v/ 

To VmGiL 

Written at the request of the Mantuans for the nineteenth centenary of 
Virgirs death 

I 

Roman Virgil, thou that singest 

Ilion's lofty temples robed in fire, 
Ilion falling, Rome arising, 

wars, and filial faith, and Dido's pyre; 

n 

Landscape-lover, lord of language 

more than he that sang the Works and Days, 
All the chosen coin of fancy 

flashing out from many a golden phrase; 

m 

Thou that singest wheat and woodland, 

tilth and vineyard, hive and horse and herd; 

All the charm of all the Muses 

often flowering in a lonely word; 

IV 

Poet of the happy Tityrus 

piping imdemeath his beechen bowers; 
Poet of the poet-satyr 

whom the laughing shepherd bound with flowers; 



156 THE ENGLISH POETS 



Chanter of the Pollio, glor3dng 

in the blissful years again to be, 

Summers of the snakeless meadow, 

unlaborious earth and oarless sea; 

VI 

Thou that seest Universal 

Nature moved by Universal Mind; 
Thou majestic in thy sadness 

at the doubtful doom of human kind; 

vn 

Light among the vanished ages; 

star that gildest yet this phantom shore; 
Golden branch amid the shadows, 

kings and realms that pass to rise no more; 

vni 

Now thy Forum roars no longer, 

fallen every purple Caesar's dome — 

Tho' thine ocean-roll of rhythm 

soimd for ever of Imperial Rome — 

IX 

Now the Rome of slaves hath perished, 

and the Rome of freemen holds her place, 

I, from out the Northern Island 

sunder'd once from all the human race. 



I salute thee, Mantovano, 

I that loved thee since my day began, 
Wielder of the stateliest measure 

ever moulded by the lips of man. 



LORD TENNYSON 157 



Hymn 

[From Akbar's Dream] 
I 

Once again thcrti flamest heavenward, once again we see thee rise. 

Every morning is thy birthday gladdening human hearts and eyes. 

Every morning here we greet it, bowing lowly down before 

thee, 
Thee the Godlike, thee the changeless, in thine ever-changing 

skies. 

n 

Shadow-maker, shadow-slayer, arrowing light from clime to clime, 
Hear thy myriad laureates hail thee monarch in their woodland 

rhyme. 
Warble bird, and open flower, and, men, below the dome of 

azure 
Kneel adoring Him the Timeless in the flame that measures 

Time! 



God and the Universe 

I 

Will my tiny spark of being wholly vanish in your deeps and 
heights? 

Must my day be dark by reason, O ye Heavens, of your bound- 
less nights, 

Rush of Suns, and roll of systems, and your fiery clash of me- 
teorites? 

n 

"Spirit, nearing yon dark portal at the limit of thy human state, 
Fear not thou the hidden purpose of that Power which alone is 

great. 
Nor the myriad world, His shadow, nor the silent Opener of the 

Gate." 



IS8 THE ENGLISH POETS 



v/ 



Crossing the Bar 

Sunset and evening star, 

And one clear call for me! 
And may there be no moaning of the bar, 

When I put out to sea, 

But such a tide as moving seems asleep, 

Too full for sound and foam. 
When that which drew from out the boundless deep 

Turns again home. 

Twilight and evening bell. 

And after that the dark! 
And may there be no sadness of farewell, 

When I embark; 

For tho* from out our bourne of Time and Place 

The flood may bear me far, 
I hope to see my Pilot face to face 

When I have crost the bar. 



RICHARD HENRY HORNE 

[Born January i, 1803, in London. In middle life he changed his name 
of Henry for that of Hengist. Literature shared his devotion with a life 
of adventure; he served in the Mexican navy and he dug for gold in 
Australia. He published four poetic plays, the most widely known of 
which is probably The Death of Marlowe (1837), and his other poetical 
works were Orion ( 1 843) and Ballad Romances ( 1 846) . His prose writings 
included A New Spirit of the Age (1844). He lived until 1884, dying on 
March 13 of that year.] 

For his verse dramas Home was extravagantly praised in his 
own day as an Elizabethan born out of due time. Of the tumultuous 
and passionate poetry that was at the call of nearly all the Eliza- 
bethan playwrights Home had nothing, and what his plays had of 
poetical merit was derived, in spite of the critics who so strongly 
asserted that here was nothing of imitation, partly from his own 
polished sense of verse but chiefly from sympathetic tecollection. 
They had, however, one striking quality which he owed to no man; 
they moved with a real interest of action, and the action was related 
with honourable art to the development of character or idea and 
was not used for any merely vulgar sensationalism. It is this 
quality that gives its value to Home's Orion, the epic that by 
reason of its original price of one farthing obtained notoriety before 
it secured a very just measure of fame. The poet in a preface 
claimed serious consideration for the philosophical theme, looking 
to this for his justification. The philosophical passages, however, 
make unprofitable reading, and the abstractions of the poem, such as 
Akinetos, the Great Unmoved, are almost comic in their solemnity. 
The epic would, moreover, be a fmitful ground for the anthologist 
of the flattest lines in poetry, — 



and — 



" Giddy with happiness Orion's spirit 
Now danced in air." . . . 



"His friends Orion left 
His further preparations to complete." . . 



l6o THE ENGLISH POETS 

and — 

" 'Gainst Merope 
Some spake aloud; against Orion, all, — 
Save the bald sage, who said ' 'twas natural.' 
^Natural!' they cried: *0 wretchl' The sage was stoned." 
and — 

"Hence, never moved by hands unskilled 
But moved as best may be. Be warned; sit still." 

— ^and others which readers will discover for themselves embedded 
in the fine passage here given. But when all this is said, Orion 
remains an extremely interesting and in some respects an excellent 
poem. The loves of Orion for Artemis, Merope, and Eos, and his 
activities in the kingdom of Oinopion, are told with great force and 
conviction, and with many charming turns of description. Trou- 
blesome as the philosophy may be, it does not overload the poem 
imduly, and the reader's attention is carried through by the sheer 
human interest of the story in a manner which is as refreshing as it 
is rare. There are very few poems of its rank and length that are 
so little open to the charge of dullness, and Home on this account if 
on no other deserves a much wider public than he has retained . His 
ambition, no doubt, was to justify anew the ways of God to man, 
and he had not the intellectual power to translate so cosmic a plan 
into poetry. But he passionately realized the human nature of his 
hero, and in consequence he made a poem of some three thousand 
lines emotionally exciting, which is no mean achievement for any 
poet. Orion has tedious patches, but it is anything but a tedious 
poem, and once a poor opening has been passed it gives, for all its 
flaws, a great deal of pleasure of a high order. 

The Ballad Romances have the same forthright qualities, telb'ng 
very readable tales in good homespim verse, and keeping always in 
touch with emotional sanity. There is much delicacy of invention 
in The Three Knights of Camdott, and the story of Bedd Gdert is 
admirably and poignantly told, whilst in The Noble Heart and 
Delora ^ there are many passages of close imaginative perception. 
The book emphasizes Home's claim to no mean poetic honour. 

John Drinkwater. 

^ Though it contains a line that must be a record, even for Home: the 
tyrant exclaiming at the hero's persistence — 

"Blight himi and blast himi What, aga*«/" 



RICHARD HENRY HORNE i6l 



(From Orion, Book 1, Canto 11) 

One day, at noontide, when the chase was done, 
Which with unresting speed since dawn had held. 
The woods were all with golden fires alive, 
And heavy limbs tingled with glowing heat. 
Sylvans and Fauns at full length cast them down. 
And cooled their flame-red faces in the grass, 
Or o'er a streamlet bent, and dipped their heads 
Deep as the top hair of their pointed ears; 
While Nymphs and Oceanides retired 
To grots and sacred groves, with loitering steps. 
And bosoms swelled and throbbing, like a bird's 
Held between hiunan hands. The hoimds with tongues 
Crimson, and lolling hot upon the green, 
And outstretched noses, flatly crouched; their skins 
Clouded or spotted, like the field-bean's flower. 
Or tiger-lily, painted the wide lawns. 

Orion wandered deep into a vale 
Alone; from all the rest his steps he bent. 
Thoughtful, yet with no object in his mind; 
Languid, yet restless. Near a hazel copse. 
Whose ripe nuts hung in clusters twined with grapes. 
He paused, down gazing, till upon his sense 
A fragrance stole, as of ambrosia wafted 
Through the warm shades by some divinity 
Amid the woods. With gradual step he moved 
Onward, and soon the poppied entrance found 
Of a secluded bower. He entered straight. 
Unconsciously attracted, and beheld 
His Goddess love, who slept — ^her robe cast off. 
Her sandals, bow and quiver, thrown aside. 
Yet with her hair still braided, and her brow 
Decked with her crescent light. Awed and alarmed 
By loving reverence — ^which dreads offence 
E'en though the wrong were never known, and feels 
Its heart's religion for religion's self. 
Besides its object's claim — swift he retired. 



l62 THE ENGLISH POETS 

The entrance gained, what thoughts, what visions his! 
What danger had he 'scaped, what innocent crime, 
Which Artemis might yet have felt so deep! 
He blest the God of Sleep who thus had held 
Her senses! Yet, what loveliness had glanced 
Before his mind — scarce seen! Might it not be 
Illusion? — some bright shadow of a hope 
First dawning? Would not sleep's God still exert 
Safe influence, if he once more stole back 
And gazed an instant? 'Twere not well to do, . 
And would o'erstain with doubt the accident 
Which first had led him there. He dare not risk 
The chance 'twere not illusion — oh, if true! 
While thus he murmured hesitating, slow. 
As slow and hesitating he returned 
Instinctively, and on the Goddess gazed! 

With adoration and delicious fear, 
Lingering he stood; then pace by pace retired. 
Till in the hazel copse sighing he paused. 
And with most earnest face, and vacant eye, 
And brow perplexed, stared at a tree. His hands 
Were clenched; his burning feet pressed down the soil, 
And changed their place. Suddenly he turned round. 
And made his way direct into the bower. 

There was a slumb'rous silence in the air, 
By noon-tide's sultry murmurs from without 
Made more oblivious. Not a pipe was heard 
From field or wood ; but the grave beetle's drone 
Passed near the entrance ; once the cuckoo called 
O'er distant meads, and once a horn began 
Melodious plaint, then died away. A sound 
Of murmurous music yet was in the breeze, 
For silver gnats that harp on glassy strings. 
And rise and fall in sparkling clouds, sustained 
Their dizzy dances o'er the seething meads. 
With brain as dizzy stood Orion now 
I' the quivering bower. There rapturous he beheld, 
As in a trance, not conscious of himself^ 



RICHARD HENRY HORNE 163 

The perfect sculpture of that naked form, 
Whose Parian whiteness and clear outline gleamed 
In its own hue, nor from the foliage took 
One tint, nor from his ample frame one shade. 
Her lovely hair hung drooping, half imbound, — 
Fair silken braids, fawn-tinted delicately. 
That on one shoulder lodge their opening coil. 
Her large round arms of dazzling beauty lay 
In matchless symmetry and inviolate grace, 
Along the mossy floor. At length he dropped 
Softly upon his knees, his clasped hands raised 
Above his head, till by resistless impulse 
His arms descending, were expanded wide — 
Swift as a flash, erect the Goddess rose! 

Her eyes shot through Orion, and he felt 
Within his breast an icy dart. Confronted, 
Mutely they stood, but all the bower was filled 
With rising mist that chilled him to the bone. 
Colder, as more obscure the space became; 
Arid ere the last collected shape he saw 
Of Artemis, dispersing fast amid 
Dense vapoury clouds, the aching wintriness 
Had risen to his teeth, and fixed his eyes. 
Like glistening stones in the congealing air. 



The Plough * 

Above yon sombre swell of land 
Thou see*st the dawn's grave orange hue, 

With one pale streak like yellow sand. 
And over that a vein of blue. 

The air is cold above the woods; 

All silent is the earth and sky, 
Except with his own lonely moods 

The blackbird holds a colloquy. 

^ Published only in the 1875 reprint of Cosmo de* Medici, 



l64 THE ENGLISH POETS 

Over the broad hill creeps a beam, 
Like hope that gilds a good man's brow; 

And now ascends the nostril-stream 
Of stalwart horses come to plough. 

Ye rigid Ploughman, bear in mind 

Your labour is for future hours: 
Advance — spare not — ^nor look behind — 

Plough deep and straight with all your powers. 



CARDINAL NEWMAN 

[John Hbnby Newman, the eldest son of a banker, John Newman, was 
bom in London in 1801. Educated privately, and at Trinity College, 
Oxford, where he graduated in 1820. Elected Fellow of Oriel, April 12, 
1822, to be joined next year by E. B. Pusey, while other Fellows during 
his terms were Hawkins, Whately, Keble, and Hurrell Froude. He was 
ordained a clergyman of the Church of England in 1824, and nine years 
later he and his friends published the (Anglican) Tracts for the Times. 
These were the printed expression of the so-called "Oxford Movement;" 
but in October, 1845, having two years earlier resigned the Vicarage of 
St. Mary's, Newman was received into the Church of Rome. His 
Apologia pro vita sua was published in 1864, and many other works of 
Catholic theology, &c., preceded and followed it. In 1878 Pope Leo XIII 
made him a Cardinal on representations made by leading English 
Catholics, lay and clerical. In 1890 he died at the Edgbaston Oratory, 
where he had lived since 1859. ^^ published anonymously, from 1834 
onwards, many religious poems, most of which were in 1868 collected in 
Verses on Various Occasions; and two years before (1866) there appeared 
his one long poem, The Dream of Gerontius.] 

It is remarkable that whereas the work of Cardinal Newman's 
long life survives in some of the noblest prose in English literature, 
he is chiefly known wherever the English language is spoken as the 
author of one short and of one long poem — Lead, Kindly Light and 
The Dream of Gerontius. There can be no doubt that the popular 
choice of these two poems from among the slender output of the 
Verses on Various Occasions is justified, and that they are the finest 
among them. The Pillar of the Clotid, now universally called Lead, 
Kindly Light, belongs to the group of seventy poems written during 
his seven months' journey to the Mediterranean (1832-33) — that 
is, considerably more than half of the original poems produced in a 
life of nearly ninety years. Throughout this journey evidently his 
imagination was imdergoing one of those sudden expansions of 
which he loved to analyse the psychological effects in later days. 
The best of his short poems were written then, including two studies 
in the style of the tragic Greek choms— The Elements and The 
Jewish Race, of which Mr. R, H. Hutton wrote that "For grandeur 



l66 THE ENGLISH POETS 

of outline, purity of taste and radiance of total effect, I know hardly 
any poems in the language that equal them." ^ 

That Lead, Kindly Light was written in 1833, immediately before 
the Oxford Movement, is a fact that has great biographical interest. 
But that the value of the poem is not chiefly biographical is clear 
from its having proved of such universal appeal. It is not too much 
to say that " Deep in the general heart of man (its) power survives." 

Over thirty years passed and most of his greatest work in prose 
had been accomph'shed before Newman wrote The Dream of Geron- 
Hus. After a time of comparative inaction there was in 1864 a 
mighty stir in the creative faculty of the recluse at Birmijigham, 
when he came forward at the challenge of Mr. Kingsley and pro- 
duced the Apologia pro vita siia. In January, 1865, came The 
Dream. "On the 17th of January," he wrote to a friend, "it came 
into my head to write it, I really can't tell how, and I wrote on until 
it was finished on small bits of paper, and I could no more write 
anything else by willing it than I could fly." 

It seems the more remarkable that this poem has so wide a read- 
ing pubhc as it is singularly intellectual in treatment. It is surely 
rare to have so purely intellectual a conception of any form of 
existence. Hitherto had not dreams or visions of another h'fe in 
great literature been given us with superabundant symbolism and 
imagery? The mere thought of Revelation, of Dante, or Milton, or 
Bunyan brings a crowd of splendid images before the imagination. 
But in Newman's vision there is no great white throne, no gates of 
pearl, no sea of glass, no sweet season, no light and darkness, no 
delectable mountain. Indeed, with the exception of "one lightning 
flash " of mysterious vision at the culminating moment of the poem, 
there is notiiing but what seems to Gerontius to be sound, and that 
not the sound of harps or of rushing waters, but simply of the voices 
of spirits. "I hear thee, not see thee. Angel," cries Gerontius, and 
the angel answers, — 

"Nor touch, nor taste, nor hearing hast thou now; 
Thou livest in a world of signs and types." 

But . . . "lest so stem a solitude should load and break thy be- 
ing" . . . "dreams that are true are vouchsafed;" and he pro- 
ceeds to sketch some economy of presentation by means of which 
converse with the angel, and apparently with the angel alone, is 

^ Cardinal Newman^ by R. H. Hutton, p. 44. 



CARDINAL NEWMAN 167 

possible. And as there is some mysterious method of communica- 
tion which seems to the disembodied spirit to be that of speaking 
and hearing, so for a moment only there will be sight: — 

"Then sight, or that which to the soul is sight, 
As by a lightning-flash, will come to thee. 
And thou shalt see, amid the dark profound, 
Whom thy soul loveth, and would fain approach." 

It is clear later on that in this vision the humanity of God made 
man is revealed. The loneliness of Gerontius before and after that 
vision is increased by the absence of any saint or hero amid the 
angelic choirs. 

In what the angel tells Gerontius of the world invisible, allusions 
to anything material are avoided or explained thus: 

" So in the world of spirits nought is found. 
To mould withal, and form into a whole. 
But what is immaterial; and thus 
The smallest portions of this edifice, 
Cornice, or frieze, or balustrade, or stair. 
The very pavement is made up of life — 
Of holy, blessed, and immortal beings. 
Who hymn their Maker's praise continually." 

Time, again, the Angel tells his charge, is no longer measured by 
"sun and moon" 

" But intervals in their succession 
Are measured by the living thought alone 
And grow or wane with its intensity." 

If there was nothing to appeal to popular taste in the imagery of 
the dream, neither was there anything to touch ordinary human 
affections. The " angel faces " of Leady Kindly Light can at least be 
interpreted as human faces. There is not an allusion to any grief 
felt by Gerontius at parting from those who are still kneeling and 
praying roimd his bed, or to any thought of meeting again those 
who had passed before him. Yet this poem exercises a strong 
attraction for the uneducated as well as the educated. "I know," 
writes Father Ryder, "a poor stocking weaver who on his death- 
bed made his wife read it to him repeatedly." 

If the work had been mainly intellectual in quality it would have 
appealed only to the cultured few. But the peculiarity of the poem 



l68 THE ENGLISH POETS 

is that despite its strange detachment it is full of passionate feeling: 
it suggests the austerity and transparency of a fine stained-glass 
window flushed with intense and glorious colour. It is indeed the 
one unreserved and passionate expression of the romance of 
Newman's life. It is the culmination of a life-long love story, the 
love of the soul for the All-Beautiful. Gerontius, as soon as he is 
able to speak to the angel, asks no question about his own fate, he 
asks only whether he will be able to see at once the Object of his 
love. " What lets me now from going to my Lord? " Then as suf- 
fering is the secret of romance we come to the drama of the "willing 
agony." 

In the fifteenth century Catherine of Genoa had explained the 
"willing agony" to her disciples. The soul, she told them, would 
not, if it could, forego the purgatorial pain — ^which alone, as she 
beUeved, can make it fit for the Divine union. The last word of 
Gerontius in the poem is to ask that his night of trial may not be 
delayed: — 

"Take me away, 
That sooner I may rise, and go above. 
And see Him in the truth of everlasting day." 

The poem embodies, then, a great passion to which a great 
intellect gave expression and which has found a spiritual echo in the 
souls of men. 

JosEpmNE Ward. 

Memory 

My home is now a thousand miles away; 

Yet in my thoughts its every image fair 

Rises as keen, as I still Unger'd there, 
And, turning me, could all I loved survey. 
And so, upon Death's unaverted day. 

As I speed upwards, I shall on me bear. 

And in no breathless whirl, the things that were, 
And duties given, and ends I did obey. 
And, when at length I reach the Throne of Power, 
Ah! still unscared, I shall in fulness see 
The vision of my past innumerous deeds. 
My deep heart-courses, and their motive-seeds, 
So to gaze on till the red dooming hour. 
Lord, in that strait, the Judge I remember me! 
Off Cape Trafalgar. December isth, 1832. 



CARDINAL NEWMAN 169 

The Pillar of the Cloud 

Lead, Kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom, 

Lead Tliou me on ! 
The night is dark, and I am far from home — 

Lead Thou me on! 
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see 
The distant scene, — one step enough for me. 

I was not ever thus, nor pray'd that Thou 

Shoiddst lead me on. 
I loved to choose and see my path, but now 

Lead Thou me on ! 
I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears. 
Pride ruled my will: remember not past years. 

So long Thy power hath blest me, sure it still 

Will lead me on, 
O'er moor and fen, o'er crag and torrent, till 

The night is gone; 
And with the mom those angel faces smile 
Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile. 

At Sea. June i6th, 1833. 

From "The Dream of Geroi^ius" 



Soul of GerotUitis 

I went to sleep; and now I am refreshed, 

A strange refreshment: for I feel in me 

An inexpressive lightness, and a sense 

Of freedom, as I were at length myself. 

And ne'er had been before. How still it is! 

I hear no more the busy beat of time. 

No, nor my fluttering breath, nor struggling pulse; 

Nor does one moment differ from the next. 

I had a dream; yes: — some one softly said 

"He 's gone;" and then a sigh went round the room. 



I70 THE ENGLISH POETS 

And then I surely heard a priestly voice 

Cry "Subvenite;** and they knelt in prayer. 

I seem to hear him still; but thin and low, 

And fainter and more faint the accents come, 

As at an ever-widening interval. 

Ah! whence is this? What is this severance? 

This silence pours a solitariness 

Into the very essence of my soul; 

Ai\d the deep rest, so soothing and so sweet. 

Hath something too of sternness and of pain. 



So much I know, not knowing how I know. 

That the vast universe, where I have dwelt. 

Is quitting me, or I am quitting it. 

Or I or it is rushing on the wings 

Of light or lightning on an onward course. 

And we e'en now are million miles apart. 

Yet ... is this peremptory severance 

Wrought out in lengthening measurements of space, 

Which grow and multiply by speed and time? 

Or am I traversing infinity 

By endless subdivision, hurrying back 

From finite towards infinitesimal, 

Thus dying out of the expansive world? 

Another marvel: some one has me fast 
Within his ample palm; 'tis not a grasp 
Such as they use on earth, but all around 
Over the surface of my subtle being, 
As though I were a sphere, and capable 
To be accosted thus, a uniform 
And gentle pressure tells me I am not 
Self-moving, but borne forward on my way. 
And hark! I hear a singing; yet in sooth 
I cannot of that music rightly say 
Whether I hear, or touch, or taste the tones. 
Oh, what a heart-subduing melody! 



CARDINAL NEWMAN 171 

II 

SotU 

Thou speakest mysteries; still methinks I know 
To disengage the tangle of thy words: 
Yet rather would I hear thy angel voice, 
Than for myself be thy interpreter. 

Angel 

When then — ^if such thy lot — thou seest thy Judge, 
The sight of Him will kindle in thy heart 
All tender, gracious, reverential thoughts. 
Thou wilt be sick with love, and yearn for Him, 
And fed as though thou couldst but pity Him, 
That one so sweet should e'er have placed Himself 
At disadvantage such, as to be used 
So vilely by a being so vile as thee. 
There is a pleading in His pensive eyes 
Will pierce thee to the quick, and trouble thee. 
And thou wilt hate and loathe thyself; for, though 
Now sinless, thou wilt feel that thou hast sinn'd, 
As never thou didst feel; and wilt desire 
To slink away, and hide thee from His sight: 
And yet wilt have a longing aye to dwell 
Within the beauty of His countenance. 
And these two pains, so counter and so keen, — 
The longing for Him, when thou seest Him not; 
The shame of self at thought of seeing Him, — 
Will be thy veriest, sharpest purgatory. 

Soul 

My soul is in my hand: I have no fear, — 
In His dear mi^t prepared for weal or woe. 
But hark! a grand, mysterious harmony: 
It floods me like the deep and solemn sound 
Of many waters. 



172 THE ENGLISH POETS 



Angels of the Sacred Stair 

Father, whose goodness none can know, but they 

Who see Thee face to face, 
By man hath come the infinite display 

Of Thy victorious grace; 
But fallen man — the creature of a day — 

Skills not that love to trace. 
It needs, to tell the triumph Thou hast wrought, 
An Angel's deathless fire, an Angel's reach of thought. 

It needs that very Angel, who with awe. 

Amid the garden shade, 
The great Creator in His sickness saw. 

Soothed by a creature's aid, 
And agonized, as victim of the Law 

Which He Himself had made; 
For who can praise Him in His depth and height, 
But he who saw Him reel amid that soUtary fight? 



Angel 

Thy judgment now is near, for we are come 
Into the veiled presence of our God. 



Praise to His Name! 
The eager spirit has darted from my hold. 
And, with the intemperate energy of love. 
Flies to the dear feet of Emmanuel; 
But, ere it reach them, the keen sanctity, 
Which with its effluence, like a glory, clothes 
And circles round the Crucified, has seized, 
And scorch'd, and shrivell'd it; and now it lies 
Passive and still before the awful Throne. 
O happy, suffering soul! for it is safe. 
Consumed, yet quicken 'd, by the glance of God. 



CARDINAL NEWMAN 173 

Sotd 

Take me away, and in the lowest deep 

There let me be, 
And there in hope the lone night-watches keep, 

Told out for me. 
There, motionless and happy in my pain, 

Lone, not forlorn, — 
There will I sing, my sad perpetual strain. 

Until the mom. 
There will I sing, and soothe my stricken breast. 

Which ne'er can cease 
To throb, and pine, and languish, till possest 

Of its Sole Peace. 
There will I sing my absent Lord and Love: — 

Take me away. 
That sooner I may rise, and go above, 
And see Him in the truth of Everlasting day. 



Angel 

Softly and gently, dearly ransom'd soul, 
In my most lovmg arms I now enfold thee, 

And, o'er the penal waters, as they roll, 
I poise thee, and I lower thee, and hold thee. 

And carefully I dip thee in the lake. 
And thou, without a sob or a resistance. 

Dost through the flood thy rapid passage take, 
Sinking deep, deeper, into the dim distance. 

Angels, to whom the willing task is given, 

Shall tend, and nurse, and lull thee, as thou liest; 

And Masses on the earth, and prayers in heaven, 
Shall aid thee at the Throne of the Most Highest. 

Farewell, but not for ever! brother dear, 
Be brave and patient on thy bed of sorrow; 

Swiftly shall pass thy night of trial here. 
And I will come and wake thee on the morrow. 
The Oratory. January, 1865. 



WILLIAM BARNES 

[Born in 1801 at Rushay, near Pentridge, Dorset; educated at an 
endowed school at Sturminster-Newton; entered the office of Mr. Dash- 
wood, a solicitor of that townlet, in 1814 or 1815; left in 1818 for the 
office of Mr. T. Coombs, Dorchester. His first printed expression in 
verse was in The Weekly Entertainer in 1820. He took a school at Mere, 
Wiltshire, in 1823; married in 1827; opened a school at Dorchester in 
1835; and in 1837 entered his name as a ten-years man at St. John's 
College, Cambridge. He was ordained in 1847. He gave up his school 
and was inducted rector of Winterbome Came in 1862, where he died 
October 7, 1886. His "Life" was published in the following year, by 
his daughter, Mrs. Baxter, writing imder the name of "Leader Scott." 

Besides articles in the Gentleman's Magazine, 1831-1843, papers in the 
Retrospective Review, 1 853-1 854, and minor prose works, he published 
Poems in the Dorset Dialect, 1844; Poems partly of Rural Life, 1846; 
Hwomely Rhymes (a second collection of Dorset Poems), 1850; A Philo- 
logical Grammar, 1854; A Grammar and Glossary of the Dorset Dialect, 
1863; A Third Collection of Dorset Poems, 1863; and Poems, of Rural Life 
in Common English, 1868. An edition of the three series in one volume 
was brought out in 1879, and a selection by the present writer in 1908.] 

The veil of a dialect, through which except in a few cases readers 
have to discern whatever of real poetry there may be in WiUiam 
Barnes, is disconcerting to many, and to some distasteful, chiefly, 
one thinks, for a superficial reason which has more to do with 
spelling than with the dialect itself. As long as the spelling of 
standard English is other than phonetic it is not obvious why that 
of the old Wessex language should be phonetic, except in a pro- 
nouncing dictionary. We have however to deal with Barnes's 
verse as he chose to write it, merely premising that his aim in the 
exact literation of Dorset words is not necessarily to exhibit 
hiunour and grotesqueness. 

It often seemed strange to lovers of Barnes that he, a man of 
insight and reading, should have persisted year after year to sing 
in a tongue which, though a regular growth and not a provincial 
corruption, is indubitably fast perishing. He said that he could not 



WILLIAM BARNES 175 



help it. But he may have seen the unwisdom of such self -limita- 
tion — at those times, let us suppose, when he appeared to be under 
an imcontrollable impulse to express his own feelings, and to convey 
an ampler interpretation of life than his rustic vehicle would carry 
unenlarged, which resulted in his putting into the mouths of 
husbandmen compound epithets that certainly no user of the di- 
alect ever concocted out of his own brain, and subtle sentiments 
that would have astonished those husbandmen and their neigh- 
bours. 

But though true dramatic artistry lies that way, the way of all 
who differentiate imaginative revelation from the blind transcripts 
of a reporter's note-book, it was probably from some misgivings on 
the score of permanence that now and then he would turn a lyric 
in "common English," and once or twice brought out a little 
volume so written as an experiment. As usual, the prepossessions 
of his cocksure critics would not allow them to tolerate what they 
had not been accustomed to, a new idea, and the specimens were 
coldly received; which seems to have discouraged him. Yet in the 
opinion of the present writer the ordinary language which, as a 
school-master, Barnes taught for nearly forty years, could soon 
have been moulded to verse as deftly as dialect by a man whose 
instinct it was to catch so readily the beat of hearts around him. I 
take as an example the lines (which I translate) on the husband who 
comes home from abroad to find his wife long dead : — 

"The rose was dust that bound her brow. 

Moth-eaten was her Sunday cape, 
Her frock was out of fashion now, 

Her shoes were dried up out of shape — 
Those shoes that once had glittered black 
Along the upland's beaten track;" 

and his frequent phrases like that of the autumn sun "wandering 
wan," the "wide-horned cows," the "high-sunned" noons, the 
"hoarse cascade," the "hedgerow-bramble's swinging bow." 

Barnes, in fact, surprising as it may seem to those who know 
him, and that but a little, as a user of dialect only, was an academic 
poet, akin to the school of Gray and Collins, rather than a sponta- 
neous singer of rural songs in folk-language like Bums, or an 
extemporizer like the old balladists. His apparently simple un- 
foldings are as studied as the so-called simple Bible-narratives are 
studied; his rhymes and alliterations often cunningly schematic. 



176 THE ENGLISH POETS 

The speech of his ploughmen and milkmaids in his Eclogues — ^his 
own adopted name for these pieces — is as sound in its syntax as 
that of the Tityrus and Meliboeus of Virgil whom he had in mind, 
and his characters have often been likened to the shepherds and 
goatherds in the idylls of Theocritus. 

Recognition came with the publication of the first series of Dorset 
poems in 1844, though some reviewers were puzzled whether to 
criticize them on artistic or philological grounds; later volumes 
however were felt to be the p)oetry of profound art by Coventry 
Patmore, F. T. Palgrave, H. M. Moule, and others. They saw that 
Barnes, behind his word-screen, had a quality of the great poets, a 
clear perception or instinct that human emotion is the primary stuflF 
of poetry. 

Repose and content mark nearly all of Barnes's verse; he shows 
little or none of the spirit of revolt which we find in Burns; nothing 
of the revolutionary politics of B6ranger. He held himself artisti- 
cally aloof from the ugly side of things — or perhaps shunned it 
unconsciously; and we escape in his pictures the sordid miseries 
that are laid bare in Crabbe, often to the destruction of charm. But 
though he does not probe life so deeply as the other parson-poet I 
have named, he conserves the poetic essence more carefully, and 
his reach in his highest moments, as exampled by such a poignant 
lyric as The Wife a-lost, or by the emotional music of Woak Hilly 
or The Wind at the Door, has been matched by few singers below 
the best. 

Thomas Hardy. 



In The Spring 

My love is the maid ov all maidens, 
Though all mid be comely. 

Her skin 's lik' the jessamy blossom 
A-spread in the Spring. 

Her smile is so sweet as a baby's 
Young smile on his mother. 

Her eyes be as bright as the dew drop 
A-shed in the Spring. 

mid] may. 



WILLIAM BARNES 177 

O grey-leafy pinks o' the gearden, 

Now bear her sweet blossoms; 
Now deck wi' a rwose-bud, O briar, 

Her head in the Spring. 

O light-rollen wind, blow me hither 

The vaice ov her talken, 
O bring vrom her veet the light doust 

She do tread in the Spring. 

O zim, meake the gil'cups all glitter 

In goold all around her, 
An' meake o' the deaisys' white flowers 

A bed in the Spring. 

O whissle, gay birds, up bezide her, 

In drong-way an' woodlands, 
O zing, swingen lark, now the clouds 

Be a-vled in the Spring! 

Jenny out vrom Hwome 

O wild-reaven west winds! as you do roar on. 

The elems do rock an' the poplars do ply, 
An' weave do dreve weave in the dark-water'd pon', — 

Oh! where do ye rise vrom, an' where do ye die? 

O wild-reaven winds! I do wish I could vlee 

Wi' you, lik' a bird o' the clouds, up above 
The ridge o' the hill an' the top o' the tree. 

To where I do long vor, an' vo'k I do love. 

Or else that in under thease rock I could hear. 
In the soft-zwellen sounds you do leave in your road, 

Zome words you mid bring me, vrom tongues that be dear, 
Vrom friends that do love me, all scatter 'd abrode. 

O wild-reaven winds! if you ever do roar 

By the house an' the elems vrom where I'm a-come. 

Breathe up at the window, or call at the door. 
An' tell you've a-voun' me a-thinken o' hwome. 

valcel voice. doust] dust. drong-way] hedged track. Be a-vled] 
have flown. re&v^n] raving. ply] bend. weave] wave, 
the&se] this. mid] might. a-voun'] found. 



178 THE ENGLISH POETS 



The Wife a-lost 

Since I noo mwore do zee your feace, 

Up steairs or down below, 
I'll zit me in the Iwonesome pleace 

Where flat-bough'd beech do grow: 
Below the beeches' bough, my love, 

Where you did never come, 
An' I don't look to meet ye now, 

As I do look at hwome. 

Since you noo mwore be at my zide. 

In walks in zummer het, 
I'll goo alwone where mist do ride, 

Drough trees a-drippen wet: 
Below the rain-wet bough, my love, . 

Where you did never come. 
An' I don't grieve to miss ye now. 

As I do grieve at hwome. 

Since now bezide my dinner-bwoard 

Your vaice do never sound, 
I'll eat the bit I can avword 

A-vield upon the ground ; 
Below the darksome bough, my love, 

Where you did never dine, 
An' I don't grieve to miss ye now, 

As I at hwome do pine. 

Since I do miss your vaice an' feace 

In prayer at eventide, 
I'll pray wi' woone sad vaice vor greace 

To goo where you do bide; 
Above the tree an' bough, my love. 

Where you be gone avore. 
An' be a-waitdn vor me now. 

To come vor evermwore. 

avword] afford. 



WILLIAM BARNES 179 



WoAK Hill 

When sycamore leaves wer a-spreaden 

Green-ruddy in hedges, 
Bezide the red doust o' the ridges, 

A^ried at Woak ffill; 

I pack'd up my goods, all a-sheenen 

Wi' long years o' handldn, 
On dousty red wheels ov a waggon, 

To ride at Woak Hill. 

The brown thatchen ruf o' the dwellen 

I then wer a-leaven, 
Had sheltered the sleek head o* Meary, 

My bride at Woak Hill. 

But now vor zome years, her light voot-vall 

'S a-lost vrom the vlooren. 
To soon vor my jay an* my children 

She died at Woak HiU. 

But still I do think that, in soul. 

She do hover about us; 
To ho vor her motherless children, 

Her pride at Woak Hill. 

Zoo — lest she should tell me hereafter 

I stole off 'ithout her, 
An' left her, uncalled at house-ridden. 

To bide at Woak Hill— 

I call'd her so fondly, wi' lippdns 

All soundless to others, 
An' took her wi* air-reach^n hand 

To my zide at Woak Hill. 

On the road I did look round, a-talk^n 

To light at my shoulder, 
An' then led her in at the doorway, 

Miles wide vrom Woak Hill. 

Woak] oak. doust] dust. jay] joy. To ho vor] in anxious 
care for. house-ridddn] moving-house. lippdns] lip-movements. 

To light] to vacancy. 



l8o THE ENGLISH POETS 

An' that 's why vo'k thought, vor a season, 
My mind wer a-wandren 

Wi' sorrow, when I wer so sorely 
A-tried at Woak Hill. 

But no; that my Meary mid never 

Behold herzelf slighted, 
I wanted to think that I guided 
My guide vrom Woak Hill. 



The Widows House 

I went hwome in the dead o' the night. 

When the vields wer all empty o' vo'k, 
An' the tuns at their cool-winded height 

Wer all dark, an' all cwold 'ithout smoke; 
An' the heads o' the trees that I pass'd 

Wer a-swayen wi' low ruslen sound, 
An' the doust wer a-whirl'd wi' the blast, 

Aye, a smeech wi' the wind on the ground. 

Then I come by the young widow's hatch, 

Down below the wold elem's tall head, 
But noo vingers did lift up the latch, 

Vor they all wer so still as the dead; 
But inside, to a tree a-meade vast, 

Wer the childem's light swing, a-hung low, 
An' a-rock'd by the brisk blowen blast, 

Aye, a-swung by the win' to an fro. 

Vor the childern, wi' pillow-borne head, 

Had vorgotten their swing on the lawn, 
An' their father, asleep wi' the dead. 

Had vorgotten his work at the dawn; 
An' their mother, a vew stilly hours, 

Had vorgotten where he slept so sound. 
Where the wind wer a-sheaken the flow'rs, 

Aye, the blast the feair buds on the ground. 

mid] might. tuns] chimneys. doust] dust. smeech] dust-cloud, 
come] came. hatch] gate. 



WILLIAM BARNES l8i 



The Water Crowvoot 

small-feac'd flow'r that now dost bloom 
To stud wi' white the shallow Frome, 
An* leave the dote to spread his flow'r 
On darksome pools o' stwoneless Stour, 
When sof ly-rizdn airs do cool 

The water in the sheen^n pool, 

Thy beds o' snow-white buds do gleam 

So feair upon the sky-blue stream 

As whitest clouds a-hangen high 

Avore the blueness o' the sky; 

An' there, at hand, the thin-heair*d cows, 

In airy sheades o' withy boughs, 

Or up bezide the mossy rails. 

Do Stan' an' zwing their heavy tails, 

The while the ripplen stream do flow 

Below the dousty bridge's bow; 

An' quiv'rdn water-gleams do mock 

The weaves, upon the sheaded rock; 

An' up athirt the copen stwone 

The laitren bwoy do lean alwone, 

A-watchen, wi' a stedvast look. 

The vallen waters in the brook, 

The while the zand o' time do run 

An' leave his errand still undone. 

An' oh! as long 's thy buds would gleam 

Above the softly-sliden stream. 

While sparkl^n ziunmer brooks do run 

Below the lofty-climen zun, 

1 only wish that thou could'st stay 
Vor noo man's harm, an' all men's jay. 
But no, the waterman 'ull weade 
Thy water wi' his deadly bleade. 

To slay thee even in thy bloom. 
Fair small-feac'd flower o' the Frome. 

dotal water-lily. athirt] across. copSn] coping. Laltrftn] 

loitering. 



r82 THE ENGLISH POETS 



Blackmwore Maidens 

The primwrose in the sheade do blow, 
The cowslip in the zun, 
The thyme upon the down do grow, 
The clote where streams do run; 
An' where do pretty maidens grow 
An' blow, but where the tow'r 
Do rise among the bricken tuns, 
In Blackmwore by the Stour. 

K you could zee their comely gait. 
An' pretty fences' smiles, 
A-tripp^n on so light o' waight. 
An' steppen off the stiles; 
A-gwain to church, as bells do swing 
An' ring within the tow'r. 
You'd own the pretty maidens' pleace 
Is Blackmwore by the Stour. 

If you vrom Wimborne took your road. 

To Stower or Paladore, 

An' all the farmers' housen show'd 

Their daughters at the door; 

You'd cry to bachelors at hwome — 

"Here, come: 'ithin an hour 

You '11 vind ten maidens to your mind 

In Blackmwore by the Stour." 

An' if you look'd 'ithin their door, 

To zee em in their pleace, 

A-doen housework up avore 

Their smilen mother's feace; 

You'd cry — "Why, if a man would wive 

An' thrive, 'ithout a dow'r, 

Then let en look en out a wife 

In Blackmwore by the Stour." 

clote] water-lily. tuns] chimneys, waight] weight. 



WILUAM BARNES 183 



As I upon my road did pass 
A school-house back in May, 
There out upon the beaten grass 
Wer maidens at their play; 
An' as the pretty souls did tweil 
An' smile, I cried, "The flow'r 
O' beauty, then, is still in bud 
In Blackmwore by the Stour!" 



The Morning Moon 

Twas when the op'ning dawn was still, 
I took my lonely road, up hill, 
Toward the eastern sky, in gloom. 
Or touch'd with palest primrose bloom; 
And there the moon at morning break. 
Though yet unset, was gleaming weak, 
And freshening air began to pass. 
All voiceless, over darksome grass. 

Before the sun 

Had yet begun 
To dazzle down the morning moon. 

By Maycreech hillock lay the cows. 
Below the ash-trees' nodding boughs, 
And water fell, from block to block 
Of mossy stone, down Bumcleeve rock. 
By poplar-trees that stood, as slim 
'S a feather, by the stream's green brim; 
And down about the mill, that stood 
Half darken'd off below the wood. 

The rambling brook 

From nook to nook 
Flow'd on below the morning moon. 

At mother's house I made a stand. 
Where no one stirr'd with foot or hand; 
No smoke above the chimney reek'd, 
No winch above the well-mouth creak 'd; 

tweill exert themselves. 



l84 THE ENGLISH POETS 

No casement opened out, to catch 
The air below the eaves of thatch; 
Nor down before her cleanly floor 
Had opened back her heavy door; 
And there the hatch, 
With fastened latch. 
Stood close, below the morning moon: 

And she, dear soul, so good and kinJ, 
Had holden long, in my young mind, 
Of holy thoughts the highest place 
Of honour for her love and grace. 
But now my wife, to heart and sight, 
May seem to shine a fuller light ; 
And as the sun may rise to view, 
To dim the moon, from pale to blue, 
My comely bride 
May seem to hide 
My mother, now my morning moon. 



White and Blue 

My love is of comely height and straight. 
And comely in all her ways and gait, 
She shows in her face the rose's hue, * 
And her lids on her eyes are white on blue. 

When Elemley club-men walked in May, 
And folk came in clusters every way. 
As soon as the sun dried up the dew. 
And clouds in the sky were white on blue. 

She came by the down with tripping walk, 
By daisies and shining banks of chalk. 
And brooks with the crowfoot flow'rs to strew 
The sky-tinted water, white on blue; 

She nodded her head as play'd the band, 
She tapped with her foot as she did stand, 
She danced in a reel, and wore all new 
A skirt with a jacket, white and blue. 



WILLIAM BARNES 185 



I singled her out from thin and stout, 
From slender and stout I chose her out, 
And what in the evening could I do 
But give her my breast-knot white and blue? 



The Wind at the Door 

As daylight darkened on the dewless grass, 
There still, with no one come by me. 
To stay awhile at home by me. 
Within the house, now dumb by me, 
I sat me still as eveningtide did pass. 

And there a windblast shook the rattling door, 

And seem'd, as wind did moan without. 

As if my love alone without. 

And standing on the stone without, 

Had there come back with happiness once more. 

I went to-door, and out from trees, above 
My head, upon the blast by me. 
Sweet blossoms there were cast by me. 
As if my love had pass'd by me. 
And flung them down, a token of her love. 

Sweet blossoms of the tree where now I mourn, 

I thought, if you did blow for her. 

For apples that should grow for her, 

And fall red-ripe below for her, 

Oh! then how happy I should see you kern. 

But no. Too soon my fond illusion broke, 
No comely soul in white like her. 
No fair one, tripping light like her, 
No wife of comely height like her. 
Went by, but all my grief again awoke. 



AUBREY DE VERE 

[Aubrey Thomas de Vere was born in January, 1814, at Curragh 
Chase, Limerick, the third son of Sir Aubrey de Vere, second Baronet, 
and of his wife who was a Spring Rice. He was educated privately at 
home, and after 1832 at Trinity College, Dublin. A few years afterwards 
he paid long visits to England and became intimate with Tennyson, 
Monckton Milnes, and many distinguished Cambridge men, and after- 
wards saw a good deal of Wordsworth, Sara Coleridge and Carlyle, 
while his chief friend from that time to the end of his life was Sir Henry 
Taylor. In 1842 he published The WMenseSy and other Poems, which 
was followed next year by The Search after Proserpine. He was deeply 
religious; and after witnessing the horrors of the Irish famine in 1846 he 
began to turn his thoughts to Roman Catholicism, and was received into 
the Roman Catholic Church in 1851, when he was on his way to Italy 
in company with H. E. Manning. For a few years he held a Professor- 
ship, under Newman, in the new Catholic University in Dublin, and in 
1857 he published May Carols, and other volumes followed. He retired 
from the University in 1858, and afterwards lived for the most part 
at Curragh Chase, where in 1902 he died unmarried, at the age of eighty- 
eight. In 1897 he published a volume of Recollections, and after his 
death a Memoir of him was written by Mr. Wilfrid Ward.] 

Many people still remember with afiFection the venerable figure 
of Aubrey de Vere, most devout of Catholics and most amiably 
patriotic of Irishmen. His was " an old age serene and bright," and 
at over eighty years of age he still retained the feelings and the 
instincts of a poet. But throughout the second half of his long life 
his two predominant passions were religion and Ireland; his poems 
written in these years, as he says in his Recollections, were almost 
exclusively "intended to illustrate religious philosophy or early 
Irish history.*' And these poems may almost be regarded as 
interludes in a life greatly occupied with the Irish political and 
economic problems of the time, to the discussion of which he 
frequently contributed. But as a young man poetry — ^pure poetry 
— ^filled a much larger place in his thoughts and activities; nat- 
urally enough, for he was a poet's son who up to the age of twenty 
had lived in almost daily intercourse with his father Sir Aubrey, 



AUBREY DE VERE 187 

whose poetical style and outlook, moreover — as will be recognized 
by any one who reads his plays Julian the Apostate and Mary 
Tudor — ^had a marked afl^ity to his own. In the days of his early 
productiveness, too, Aubrey de Vere mingled with the world of 
London and Cambridge, especially with the men of letters, such 
as Tennyson and Monckton Milnes, and abovje all with his intimate 
friend Henry Taylor. The Lives of several of these men abound 
with references to him, impl3dng the most cordial intellectual 
intercourse; in that of Tennyson there are many and in Henry 
Taylor's Autobiography many more. Again, the three voltunes of 
Critical Essays, which were written at many different dates though 
they were only collected in 1887-9, show how deeply he had been 
interested in poetry and how excellent a critic he was. He tells 
us in his Recollections that Byron was his first admiration, but was 
instantly displaced when^Sir Aubrey put Wordsworth's Laodamia 
into his hands. It was with him as with Tennyson, in whose 
Memoir it is recorded that "he was dominated by Byron till he was 
seventeen, when he put him away altogether." Laodamia con- 
verted de Vere; from that moment he was a Wordsworthian, 
though not an imitator; on the contrary the charming little volume 
called The Search after Proserpine, and other Poems (1843) shows 
a gift more lyrical than philosophical, owing more to the influence 
of Shelley and the Greeks than to that of Rydal Mount. 

Several of the extracts that follow are taken from that book, 
because it is hard to find in his later writings anything so spon- 
taneous, so musical as the best of these px)ems, and because the 
volume shows Aubrey de Vere in the stage when poetry filled his 
soul, when he saw that there were bigger things in the world, in 
history, and in literature, than the political problems of the day, 
and when even Religion did not urge him to express her mysteries 
in verse. Seldom has the spell of Greece been exercised with greater 
effect than it was upon young de Vere, as he shows in the title- 
poem, and in Lines written under Delphi: poems which made old 
Landor, in 1848, beg him to "reascend with me the steeps of 
Greece" and to take no heed of Ireland — a country of which the 
old man writes in terms unfit for ears polite. The curious thing 
is that this love for Greece and Greek tradition, which rings more 
true than anjrthing in Childe Harold, seems to have clean passed 
away from Aubrey de Vere after he became possessed with the 
religious passion. There is not a single mention of the travels to 
Greece in the volume of Recollections, and in the well-known May 



l88 THE ENGLISH POETS 

Carols — May being the month of Mary — ^he admits that even the 
descriptive pieces are "an attempt towards a Christian rendering 
of external nature." 

The Coleridge poem here quoted is interesting both as an emo- 
tional utterance and as a piece of criticism; and the sonnets de- 
serve their place as an expression of de Vere's intense love for his 
father, of his regard for his brother poets, and of his religious faith. 

Editor. 

[From The Search after Proserpine] 
Fountain Nymphs 



Proserpina was playing 

In the soft Sicilian clime, 
'Mid a thousand damsels maying, 

All budding to their prime: 
From their regions azure-blazing 
The Immortal Concourse gazing 

Bent down, and sought in vain 
Another earthly shape so meet with them to reign. 



The steep blue arch above her, 

In Jove^s own smiles arrayed. 
Shone mild, and seemed to love her: 

His steeds Apollo stayed: 
Soon as the God espied her 
Nought else he saw beside her, 

Though in that happy clime 
A thousand maids were verging to the fulness of their prime. 

3 
Old venerable Ocean 

Against the meads uproUed 
With ever-young emotion 

His tides of blue and gold: 
He had called with pomp and paean 
From his well-beloved ^Egean 
All billows to one shore, 
To fawn around her footsteps and in murmurs to adore. 



AUBREY DE VERE 189 



Proserpina was playing 

Sicilian flowers among; 
Amid the tall flowers strajdng. 

Alas! she strayed too long! 
Sometimes she bent and kissed them, 
Sometimes her hands caressed them, 

And sometimes, one by one, 
She gathered them and tenderly enclosed them in her zone. 



Lay upon your lips your fingers — 

Ceres comes, and full of woe; 
Sad she comes, and often lingers: 

Well that grief divine I know: 
Lay upon your lips your fingers; 
Crush not, as you run, the grass; 
Let the little bells of glass 

On the fountain blinking 
Burst, but rmg not till she pass, 

Down in silence sinking. 
By the green scarf arching o'er her, 

By her mantle yellow-pale. 
By those blue weeds bent before her. 

Bent as in a gale, 
Well I know her — hush, descend — 
Hither her green-tracked footsteps wend. 



Strophe 

Proserpina once more 

Will come to us a-Maying; 
Sicilian meadows o'er 

Low-singing and light-playing. 
The wintry durance past, 
Delight will come at last: 
Proserpina will come to us — 
Will come to us a-Maying. 



igo TBE ENGLISH POETS 

Antistrophe 

Sullen skies to-day, 
Sunny skies to-morrow; 

November steals from May, 
And May from her doth borrow; 

Griefs — ^Joys — ^in Time's strange dance 

Interchangeably advance; 

The sweetest joys that come to us 
Come sweeter for past sorrow. 



Coleridge 

His eye saw all things in the symmetry 
Of true and just proportion; and his ear 

That inner tone could hear 
Which flows beneath the outer: therefore he 
Was as a mighty shell, fashioning all 
The winds to one rich soimd, ample and musical. 

Yet dim that eye with gazing upon heaven; 
.Wearied with vigils, and the frequent birth 

Of tears when turned to earth: 
Therefore, though farthest ken to him was given. 
Near things escaped him: through them — ^as a gem 
Diaphanous — ^he saw ; and therefore saw not them. 

Moreover, men whom sovereign wisdom teaches 
That God not less in humblest forms abides 

Than those the great veil hides. 
Such men a tremor of bright reverence reaches; 
And thus, confronted ever with high things. 
Like cherubim they hide their eyes between their wings. 

No loftier, purer soul than his hath ever 
With awe revolved the planetary page, 

From infancy to age, 
Of Knowledge; sedulous and proud to give her 
The whole of his great heart for her own sake; 
For what she is; not what she does, or what can make. 



AUBREY DE VERE 191 

And mighty Voices from afar came to him: 
Converse of trumpets held by cloudy forms, 

And speech of choral stoiitns: 
Spirits of night and noontide bent to woo him: 
He stood the while, lonely and desolate 
As Adam, when he ruled the world, yet found no mate. 

His loftiest thoughts were but like palms uplifted. 
Aspiring, yet in supplicating guise; 
His sweetest songs were sighs: 
Adown Lethean streams his spirit drifted, 
Under Elysian shades from [x>ppied bank 
With Amaranths massed in dark luxuriance dank. 

Coleridge, farewell! That great and grave transition 
Which may not Priest, or King, or Conqueror spare. 

And yet a Babe can bear. 
Has come to thee. Through life a goodly vision 
Was thine; and time it was thy rest to take. 
Soft be the sound ordained thy sleep to break— 
When thou art waking, wake me, for thy Master's sake! 

1839. 



[From May Carols] 

II. 7 

Stronger and steadier every hour 
The pulses of the season's glee 

As higher climbs that vernal Power 
Which rules the azure revelry. 

Trees that from winter's grey eclipse 
Of late but pushed their topmost plume 

Or felt with green-touched finger-tips 
For spring, their perfect robes assimie. 

Like one that reads not one that spells 
The unvarying rivulet onward run: 

And bird to bird from leafier cells 
Sends forth more leisurely response. 



192 THE ENGLISH POETS 

Through gorse-gilt coverts bounds the deer; 

The gorse, whose latest splendours won 
Make all the fulgent wolds appear 

Bright as the pastures of the sun. 

A balmier zephyr curls the wave; 

More purple flames o'er ocean dance; 
And the white breaker by the cave 

Falls with more cadenced resonance; 

While, vague no more, the mountains stand 
With quivering line or hazy hue, 

But drawn with finer firmer hand, 
And settling into deeper blue. 



II. 30 

A sweet exhaustion seems to hold 
In spells of calm the shrouded eve: 

The gorse itself a beamless gold 
Puts forth: yet nothing seems to grieve. 

The dewy chaplets hang on air; 

The willowy fields are silver-grey; 
Sad odours wander here and there; 

And yet we feel that it is May. 

Relaxed and with a broken flow 
From dripping bowers low carols swell 

In mellower, glassier tones, as though 
They mounted through a bubbling well. 

The crimson orchis scarce sustains 
Upon its drenched and drooping spire 

The burden of the warm soft rains; 
The purple hills grow nigh and nigher. 

Nature, suspending lovely toils, 
On expectations lovelier broods. 

Listening, with lifted hand, while coils 
The flooded rivulet through the woods. 



AUBREY DE VERE 193 

She sees, drawn out in vision clear, 

A world with summer radiance drest 
And a]] the glories of that year 

Still sleeping in her sacred breast. 



m. 4 

A sudden sun-burst in the woods 
But late sad Winter's palace dim! 

O'er quickening boughs and bursting buds 
Pacific glories shoot and swim. 

As when some heart, grief-darkened long, 
Conclusive joy by force invades, 

So swift the new-born splendours throng; 
Such lustre swallows up the shades. ^ 

The sun we see not; but his fires 
From stem to stem obliquely smite 

Till all the forest aisle respires 
The golden-tongued and myriad light: 

The caverns blacken as their brows 
With floral fire are fringed: but all 

Yon sombre vault of meeting boughs 
Turns to a golden fleece its pall, 

As o'er it breeze-like music rolls: 
O Spring, thy limit-line is crossed I 

O Earth, some orb of singing Souls 
Brings down to thee thy Pentecost! 



[From Mcdiaval Records and Sonnets] 

(Browning) 

Mourn, Italy, with England mourn since both 
He sang with song's discriminating love; 
Thy towers that flash the wooded crag above; 
Thy trellised vineyard's purple overgrowth; 
Thy matin balm; thy noontide's pleasing sloth; 



194 THE ENGLISH POETS 

Tby convent bell, dim lake, and homeward dove; 
Thine evening star that through the bowered alcove 
Silvers the white flight of the circling moth. 
He sang thy best and worst; false love, fierce war. 
Renaissance craft, child-graces, saintly Art, 
Old pomps from "Casa Guidi's" Windows seen: 
There dwelt he happy; there that Minstrel-Queen 
Who shared his poet-crown but gladdened more 
To hold unshared her Poet's manly heart. 



(Tennyson) 

None sang of Love more nobly; few as well; 

Of Friendship none with pathos so profound; 

Of Duty sternliest-proved when myrtle-crowned; 

Of English grove and rivulet, mead and dell; 

Great Arthur's Legend he alone dared tell; 

Milton and Dryden feared to tread that ground; 

For him alone o'er Camelot's faery bound 

The "horns of Elf-land" blew their magic spell. 

Since Shakespeare and since Wordsworth none hath sung 

So well his England's greatness; none hath given 

Reproof more fearless or advice more sage: 

None inlier taught how near to earth is Heaven; 

With what vast concords Nature's harp is strung; 

How base false pride; faction's fanatic rage. 



SIR FRANCIS DOYLE 

[Sir Francis Hastings Doyle, 2nd Baronet; bom 1810; educated at 
Eton and Christ Church; ist Class Lit. Hum., Fellow of All Souls. Was 
Receiver-General of Customs, 1846-69, then Commissioner of Customs 
till 1883. Published Miscellaneous Verses ^ 1834, and some other volumes 
of verse at intervals; the greater part were republished in one volume in 
1883. Was appointed Professor of Poetry at Oxford in 1867, and held 
the post ten years, publishing two volumes of lectures. Died 1888.] 

Sir Francis Doyle came of a family of soldiers; the Dictionary 
mentions five of his near relatives who were generals and colonels. 
It is not surprising, then, that his verses, when he came to write 
and publish, dealt largely with action, and that the poem by which 
he is best known celebrates the heroism of a British soldier. But 
he himself lived the quiet life of a civilian office-holder — ^he was 
Receiver-General of Customs for over twenty years of his middle 
life. But he was distinguished intellectually in his youth, at Eton 
and Oxford; his first class (1832) and his Fellowship of All Souls, 
and his close intimacy with Gladstone and a number of other 
young leaders, which began in the Eton Debating Society, marked 
him out as one of the chosen. He and Gladstone, however, parted 
company when the latter joined the Liberals, and Doyle's Toryism 
only grew stronger with years. In 1883, when the Liberals were 
planning memorable measures, he wrote: "I try not to despair of 
the future of my country," this lugubrious mood taking no ac- 
count of the fact that the government of Egypt had just passed 
into British hands; and many of his verses, at all dates, contain 
little hits at Whigs, past and present. But it must be granted 
that, beyond a general conservatism in their outlook, the Essays 
and Lectures, which he delivered as Professor of Poetry at Oxford 
before and after 1870, do not mix party with literature, and the 
same may be said of the Poems. These latter are honest and 
strenuous, though perhaps in many cases they do not rise above 
the commonplace; but his translations from Pindar and Sophocles, 
and from several French poets, are excellent; The Private of the 
Buffs, is, in its way, a classic, and the selections which we give 



198 THE ENGLISH POETS 

"His jockey moves on him. He comes! " 

Then momently like gusts, you heard, 

"He 's sixth— he 's fifth— he 's fourth— he 's third"; 

And on, like some glancing meteor-flame, 

The stride of the Derby winner came. 

And during all that anxious time, 
(Sneer as it suits you at my rhyme) 
The earnestness became sublime; 
Common and trite as is the scene. 
At once so thrilling, and so mean. 
To him who strives his heart to scan, 
And feels the brotherhood of man. 
That needs must be a mighty minute. 
When a crowd has but one soul within it. 
As some bright ship, with every sail 
Obedient to the urging gale. 
Darts by vext hulls, which side by side, 
Dismasted on the raging tide. 
Are struggling onward, wild and wide, 
Thus, through the reeling field he flew, 
And near, and yet more near he drew; 
Each leap seems longer than the last, 
Now — ^now — ^the second horse is past. 
And the keen rider of the mare, 
With haggard looks of feverish care, 
Hangs forward on the speechless air, 
By steady stillness nursing in 
The remnant of her speed to win. 
One other bound — one more — 'tis done; 
Right up to her the horse has run. 
And head to head, and stride for stride. 
New market's hope, and Yorkshire's pride, 
Like horses harnessed side by side, 

Are struggling to the goal. 
Ride! gallant son of Ebor, ride! 
For the dear honour of the north. 
Stretch every bursting sinew forth, 

Put out thy inmost soul, — 
And with knee, and thigh, and tightened rein, 
Lift in the mare by might and main. 



SIR FRANCIS DOYLE IQQ 

The Private of the Bxjtfs 

"Some Seiks, and a private of the Buffs, having remained behind with 
the grog-carts, fell into the hands of the Chinese. On the next morning 
they were brought before the authorities, and commanded to perform the 
kotou. The Seiks obeyed; but Moyse, the English soldier, declaring that 
he would not prostrate himself before any Chinaman alive, was imme- 
diately knocked upon the head, and his body thrown on a dunghill." — 
See China Correspondent of The Times, 

Last nighty among his fellow roughs, 

He jested, quaffed, and swore; 
A drunken private of the Buffs, 

Who never looked before. 
To-day f beneath the foeman's frown, 

He stands in Elgin's place, 
Ambassador from Britain's crown, 

And type of all her race. 

Poor, reckless, rude, law-born, untaught. 

Bewildered, and alone, 
A heart, with English instinct fraught. 

He yet can call his own. 
Ay, tear his body limb from limb. 

Bring cord, or axe, or flame: 
He only knows, that not through him 

Shall England come to shame. 

Far Kentish ^ hop-fields round him seem'd. 

Like dreams, to come and go; 
Bright leagues of cherry-blossom gleam'd. 

One sheet of living snow; 
The smoke, above his father's door. 

In gray soft eddyings hung: 
Must he then watch it rise no more, 

Doom'd by himself, so young? 

Yes, honour calls! — ^with strength like steel. 

He put the vision by. 
Let dusky Indians whine and kneel; 

An English lad must die. 

1 The Buffs, or East Kent Regiment. 



200 THE ENGLISH POETS 

And thus, with eyes that would not shrink, 

With knee to man unbent, 
Unfaltering on its dreadful brink. 

To his red grave he went. 

Vain, mightiest fleets of iron framed; 

Vain, those all-shattering guns; 
Unless proud England keep, untamed, 

The strong heart of her sons. 
So, let his name through Europe ring — 

A man of mean estate. 
Who died, as firm as Sparta's king, 

Because his soul was great. 



LORD HOUGHTON 

[Richard Monckton Milnes was born June 19, 1809, the only son of 
Robert Milnes, M. P., of Fryston and Bawtry in Yorkshire, and of 
Henrietta Monckton, daughter of the fourth Viscount Galway. Delicacy 
in boyhood kept him from a public school, but in 1827 he entered at 
Trinity College, Cambridge. Later he studied at Bonn, and spent several 
years in Italy, where his parents were then living. In 1837 he was elected 
for Pontefract as a Conservative, but after 1846 attached himself loosely 
to the Liberal Party, maintaining throughout a special interest in social 
reform. In 1851 he married Annabel Crewe, daughter of the second 
Lord Crewe, and in 1863 was raised to the Peerage as Lord Houghton. 
He lost his wife in 1874, and died of angina pectoris, at Vichy in France, 
on August II, 1885. Of poetry he published in 1834 Memorials of a Tour 
in Greece y and in 1838 Memorials of a Residence on the Continent , and 
Historical Poems. In 1840 appeared Poetry for the People y and in 1844 
Poems, Legendary and Historical, and Palm Leaves. A collected edition 
was issued in 1876. His principal prose works, besides a number of 
pamphlets, &c., were the Life of Keats y published in 1848, and Mono- 
graphs, Personal and Social, in 1873.] 

In 1838 Henry Crabb Robinson noted in his Diary how Landor 
had maintained that "Milnes is the greatest poet now living in 
England." Landor could be an exuberant critic; and even though 
he purposely ignored the last flickerings of Southey's existence and 
Wordsworth's barren old age, five years earlier Tennyson had 
published The Lotos-Eaters and The Palace of Art; while Paracelsus 
had lately shown careful critics that another new-comer had to be 
reckoned with. Still it is interesting to recall the verdict to a 
generation which has nearly forgotten Lord Houghton's poetry, 
and remembers him principally as a witty and genial man of the 
world, and promoter of some useful public reforms during the first 
forty years of Queen Victoria's reign. 

Whatever germs of poetry were inborn in Richard Milnes were 
sure of sympathetic cultivation in the famous coterie of the late 
twenties at Trinity, Cambridge, where the three Tennysons, the 
two Lushingtons, Arthur Hallam, and Richard Trench talked and 



202 THE ENGLISH POETS 

wrote. The devotion of the whole circle to Keats and Shelley, 
which produced the first English issue of Adonais, and dispatched 
Hallam, Milnes, and Sunderland to the Oxford Union as cham- 
pions of its author's art, was linked with an enthusiasm for Words- 
worth scarcely less ardent, and doubtless in some respects correc- 
tive. Milnes was no copyist ; but until the time came when Eastern 
travel gave him something of a new vision, and therewith some- 
thing of a fresh manner, the influence of the older masters is not 
less patent in his work than in the earlier poems of Alfred Tennyson. 
In the last year of his life, at each of two gatherings held in honour 
of Gray and of Wordsworth, he dwelt on the disadvantages under 
which the poets of sentiment labour in comparison with the su- 
preme poets of passion and of imagery. As he himself admitted, 
any such classification of schools and of individuals must be 
arbitrary and imperfect; and no doubt qualitative analysis on 
these lines of such utterly different masterpieces as Lycidas, the 
Ode on CromwelVs Return from Ireland, the two poems To Mary 
Vnwiny and Ulysses, would not be easy. We may be certain, 
however, that Milnes would have numbered himself among the 
poets of sentiment, treading more nearly in the path of Wordsworth 
than any other. Indeed, with some of W^ordsworth*s human 
sight, and touches of his sober emotion, and without ever plung- 
ing into the incredible bathos of Wordsworth at his worst, he now 
and then spoiled a stanza by a pedestrian phrase, or a cadence 
more befitting prose. One material limitation parted the disciple 
from the prophet. Country-bred though he was, it was Milnes's 
misfortune to possess little taste for country life or for rural pleas- 
ures; and while his Southern and Eastern poems exhibit some 
notable pictures of sky and landscape, it was into the hidden heart 
of man, not of Nature, that he strove to look, and the revelation 
of humanity that he desired to widen. He laboured in a special 
sense to make his work, in Matthew Arnold's much-discussed 
phrase, " A criticism of life," though he never professed to formu- 
late a whole philosophy of man's existence. The poems of which 
he himself thought most — The Flight of Youth (which he placed 
first). Never Return, The Men of Old, The Long Ago, and Hcdf 
Truth — ^are all poems of sentiment in his meaning of the word, 
and the notes of passion are rare throughout. Indeed in most of 
his thoughtful poetry the lights burn somewhat low; while all his 
life through he himself bubbled over with humour, and extracted 
continual enjoyment from the most varied scenes and from the 



LORD HOUGHTON 203 



most diverse social conditions. For what sounds like a paradox 
is indeed almost a commonplace — that utterance in verse often 
expresses a reaction of the soul against the moral and intellectual 
elements by which a man is known in his daily life. Never Return^ 
2L poem in blank verse of nearly 150 b'nes, and therefore too long 
for this Selection, describes a gathering of friends under an Italian 
sky, and the eternal conflict between the outlook of sanguine 
youth and the cooler philosophy of mature years. It is marked 
by singular grace of expression, and some fine landscape painting. 

The memorials of Milnes's travel in Greece and of residence in 
Italy have lost some of their freshness with the passage of time. 
The Greece of Byron is more remote from us than the Greece of 
Pericles, and the Brownings sang of Italy with fuller knowledge and 
deeper devotion; but the Eastern volume of Palm Leaves ^ as Lord 
Houghton himself came to see when he reissued his poetry, de- 
serves a more lasting recollection. His travels in 1842 were not 
those of a Burton, or even of a Mr. Wilfrid Blunt; but it may be 
questioned whether any English poet has obtained a closer per- 
ception of the Near East, or of the spirit by which the followers of 
the Prophet live and move. Such p)oems as Mohammedanism y The 
Hareemf The Tent, some of the Eastern Thoughts, and the tales told 
in The Kiosk, remain vivid and authentic after all the turmoils and 
changes that have harassed the land which inspired them. 

As might be anticipated amid a life of variety and movement, 
much of Milnes's verse, and not a little of the most original, is of 
what is called the "occasional" type. The term is sometimes used 
with a note of depreciation, and the very highest poetry in the 
language rarely conforms to it; but no apology can be needed for 
appearance in the train of some of Milton's and Wordsworth's 
noblest sonnets, to say nothing of Bums or Cowper or Byron. 
Milnes's Monument for Scutari, A Spanish Anecdote, the two son- 
nets on Princess Borghese, and his in memoriam verses on Dryden 
and Thackeray, Mary and Agnes Berry, and Mrs, Denison, are all 
excellent in their kind. The blended feeling and urbanity in such 
lines as these on the Misses Berry awaken regret that he did not 
dig deeper in the vein of Praed or of Thackeray himself. 

"Farewell, dear Ladies: in your loss 
We feel the past recede. 
The gap our hands could almost cross 
Is now a gulf indeed; 



204 THE ENGLISH POETS 

Ye, and the days in which your claims 

And charms were early known, 
Lose substance, and ye stand as names 

That History makes its own. 

Farewell! the pleasant social page 

Is read, but ye remain 
Examples of ennobled age, 

Long life without a stain; 
A lesson to be scorned by none, 

Least by the wise and brave, 
Delightful as the winter sun 

That gilds this open grave:" 

Once only, in The Brownie^ did Mihies reveal a sombre power 
which makes that poem admirable in its genre and will keep it 
alive. The other and longer Legends and Narrative Poems are not 
specially noticeable. 

Some may be tempted to ask whether the writer of poetry- 
stamped by so competent a critic as Mr. Aubrey de Vere as " rich in 
fancy, grave-hearted, in an unusual degree thoughtful and full of 
pathos," might not have climbed to great heights if, like Words- 
worth and Tennyson, he had laid aside other ambitions and enjoy- 
ments, and devoted himself to imaginative labours. 

Experience does not favour such a possibility. " Mute inglorious 
Miltons" may rest in the country churchyard, but not on the 
benches of the House of Commons. Quisque suos patimur manes, 
and it would be hard to name an instance where absorption in 
politics or business or society has aflfected either the quality or the 
volume of poetry belonging to the first class — using that phrase in 
an extended sense so as to include Hugo or Browning, as well as 
Dante or Milton. The fact is that the creative impulse is so power- 
ful and so pleasurable to those who enjoy it even in small measure, 
that though it may sometimes dissipate itself in the sands of in- 
dolence, its flow can scarcely be diverted into another deep channel 
of active life. So while much unwanted verse goes to the printers, 
little poetry, if any, is left unwritten by those who can write indeed. 
And if Milnes issued no new volume after he was five-and-thirty, it 
was not through the expulsion of poetry from its throne by the 
pressure of other interests so much as through their admission by 
the partial abdication of poetry. To some of his relatives public 



LORD HOUGHTON 205 



li!"e seemed to be the sole rational pursuit for a clever man of his 
upbringing; but such pressure would not have operated but for the 
decay in himself of that lyrical faculty of youth which, in its con- 
stant occurrence and its ephemeral richness, always excited his 
wonder as a phenomenon and his s)anpathy as a personal incident. 
In his own stronger work the gift greatly transcended the mere out- 
flow of musical verse; indeed, as Frederick Locker wrote after his 
death: "His poetry depended less on the way the thought was ex- 
pressed than on the thought itself." But, as he himself observed in 
1876, "It is in truth the continuance and sustenance of the poetic 
faculty which is the test of its magnitude: when it grows with a 
man's growth in active life, when it is not checked or smothered by 
the cares of ordinary existence, or by the successes or failures of a 
career, when it derives force and variety from the experiences of 
society and the internal history of the individual mind, then, and 
then only, can it be surely estimated as part of that marvellous 
manifestation of Art and Nature, the Poetry of the World . " These 
laurels cannot be claimed for Lord Houghton, and he would never 
have claimed them for himself. But at a time when many new 
lamps of verse are lit which are by no means beacon-fires, it is not 
amiss to rekindle the steady flame of his poetry by this selection. 

Crewe. 



Mohammedanism 

One God the Arabian Prophet preached to man. 

One God the Orient still 
Adores through many a realm of mighty span, 

A God of Power and Will— 

A God that shrouded in His lonely light 

Rests utterly apart 
From all the vast Creations of His might. 

From Nature, Man, and Art: — 

A Being in whose solitary hand 

All other beings weigh 
No more than in the potter's reckoning stand 

The workings of his clay: — 



2o6 THE ENGLISH POETS 

A Power that at its pleasure will create, 

To save or to destroy; 
And to eternal pain predestinate, 

As to eternal joy: — 

An unconditioned, irrespective Will, 

Demanding simple awe, 
Beyond all principles of good or ill, 

Above idea of law. 

No doctrine here of perfect Love divine, 

To which the bounds belong 
Only of that unalterable line 

Disparting right from wrong: — 

A love that while it must not regulate 

The issues of free-will, 
By its own sacrifice can expiate 

The penalties of ill. 

No message here of man redeemed from sin, 

Of fallen nature raised, 
By inward strife and moral discipline 

Higher than e'er debased, — 

Of the immense parental heart that yearns 

From highest heaven to meet 
The poorest wandering spirit that returns 

To its Creator's feet. 

No Prophet here by common essence bound 

At once to God and man, 
Author Himself and part of the profound 

And providential plan: 

Himself the ensample of unuttered worth, 

Himself the living sign. 
How by God's grace the fallen sons of earth 

May be once more divine. 

Thus in the faiths old Heathendom that shook 
Were diflFerent powers of strife; 

Mohammed's truth lay in a holy Book, 
Christ's in a sacred Life. 



LORD HOUGHTON 207 



So, while the world rolls on from change to change 

And realms of thought expand, 
The Letter stands without expanse or range, 

Stiff as a dead man's hand; 

While, as the life-blood fills the growing form. 

The Spirit Christ has shed 
Flows through the ripening ages fresh and warm. 

More felt than heard or read. 

And therefore, though ancestral sympathies. 

And closest ties of race. 
May guard Mohammed's precept and decrees. 

Through many a tract of space. 

Yet in the end the tight-drawn line must break. 

The sapless tree must fall. 
Nor let the form one time did well to take 

Be tyrant over all. 

The tide of things rolls forward, surge on surge, 

Bringing the blessed hour. 
When in Himself the God of Love shall merge 

The Gkxl of Will and Power. 



The Flight of Youth 

No, though all the winds that lie 

In the circle of the sky 

Trace him out, and pray and moan. 

Each in its most plaintive tone, — 

No, though Earth be split with sighs, 

And all the Kings that reign 

Over Nature's mysteries 

Be our faithfullest allies, — 

All — all is vain: 

They may follow on his track. 

But He never will come back — 

Never again! 

Youth is gone away. 
Cruel, Cruel youth, 



2o8 THE ENGLISH POETS 

Full of gentleness and ruth 
Did we think him all his stay; 
How had he the heart to wreak 
Such a woe on us so weak, 
He that was so tender-meek? 
How could he be made to learn 
To find pleasure in our pain? 
Could he leave us to return 
Never again! 

Bow your heads very low, 
Solemn-measured be your paces. 
Gathered up in grief your faces, 
Sing sad music as ye go; 
In disordered handfuls strew 
Strips of cypress, sprigs of rue; 
In your hands be borne the bloom, 
Whose long petals once and only 
Look from their pale-leaved tomb 
In the midnight lonely; 
Let the nightshade's beaded coral 
Fall in melancholy moral 
Your wan brows aroimd, 
While in very scorn ye fling 
The amaranth upon the ground 
As an unbelieved thing; 
What care we for its fair tale 
Of beauties that can never fail. 
Glories that can never wane? 
No such blooms are on the track 
He has past, who will come back 
Never again! 

Alas! we know not how he went. 
We knew not he was going, 
For had our tears once found a vent. 
We had stayed him with their flowing. 
It was as an earthquake, when 
We awoke and found him gone. 
We were miserable men, 
We were hopeless, every one! 
Yes, he must have gone away 



LORD HOUGHTON 209 



In his guise of every day, 
In his common dress, the same 
Perfect face and perfect frame; 
For in feature, for in limb, 
Who could be compared to him? 
Firm his step, as one who knows 
He is free where'er he goes, 
And withal as light of spring 
As the arrow from the string; 
His impassioned eye had got 
Fire which the s\m had not; 
Silk to feel, and gold to see, 
Fell his tresses full and free. 
Like the morning mists that glide 
Soft adown the moimtain's side; 
Most delicious 'twas to hear 
When his voice was thrilling clear 
As a silver-hearted bell. 
Or to follow its low swell, 
When, as dreamy winds that stray 
Fainting 'mid ^olian chords, 
Inner music seemed to play 
Symphony to all his words; 
In his hand was poised a spear. 
Deftly poised, as to appear 
Resting of its proper will, — 
Thus a merry hunter still, 
And engarlanded with bay, . 
Must our Youth have gone away, 
Though we half remember now, 
He had borne some little while 
Something mournful in his smile — 
Something serious on his brow: 
Gentle Heart, perhaps he knew 
The cruel deed he was about to do! 

Now, between us all and Him 
There are rising mountains dim, 
Forests df uncoimted trees. 
Spaces of unmeasured seas: 
Think of Him how gay of yore 



2IO THE ENGLISH POETS 

We made sunshine out of shade, — 
Think with Him how light we bore 
All the burden sorrow laid; 
All went happily about Him, — 
How shall we toil on without Him? 
How without his cheering eye 
Constant strength enbreathing ever? 
How without Him standing by 
Aiding every hard endeavour? 
For when faintness or disease 
Had usurped upon our knees, 
if he deigned our lips to kiss 
With those living lips of his, 
We were lightened of our pain, 
We were up and hale again: — 
Now, without one blessing glance 
From his rose-ht countenance. 
We shall die, deserted men, — 
And not see him, even then I 

We are cold, very cold, — 
All our blood is drying old. 
And a terrible heart-dearth 
Reigns for us in heaven and earth: 
Forth we stretch our chilly fingers 
In poor effort to attain 
Tepid embers, where still lingers 
Some preserved warmth, in vain. 
Of! if Love, the Sister dear 
Of Youth that we have lost, 
Come not in swift pity here, 
Come not, with a host 
Of Affections, strong and kind. 
To hold up our sinking mind. 
If She will not, of her grace. 
Take her Brother's holy place. 
And be to us, at least, a part 
Of what he was, in Life and Heart, 
The faintness that is on our breath 
Can have no other end but Death. 



(1833.) 



LORD HOUGHTON 211 



Moments 

I lie in a heavy trance, 

With a world of dream without me 

Shapes of shadow dance, 

In wavering bands about me; 

But, at times, some mystic things 

Appear in this phantom lair. 

That almost seem to me visitings 

Of Truth known elsewhere: 

The world is wide, — these things are small. 

They may be nothing, but they are All. 

A prayer in an hour of pain, 

Begun in an undertone, 

Then lowered, as it would fain 

Be heard by the heart alone; 

A throb, when the soul is entered 

By a light that is lit above. 

Where the God of Nature has centered 

The Beauty of Love. — 

The world is wide, — ^these things are small. 

They may be nothing, but they are All. 

A look that is telling a tale, 

Which looks alone dare tell, — 

When a cheek is no longer pale. 

That has caught the glance, as it fell; 

A touch, which seems to unlock 

Treasures unknown as yet. 

And the bitter-sweet first shock, 

One can never forget; 

The world is wide, — these things are small, 

They may be nothing, but they are All. 

A sense of an earnest Will 
To help the lowly-living, — 
And a terrible heart-thrill, 
If you have no power of giving: 



212 THE ENGLISH POETS 

An arm of aid to the weak, 

A friendly hand to the friendless, 

Kind words, so short to speak, 

But whose echo is endless: 

The world is wide, — these things are small, 

They may be nothing, but they are All. 

The moment we think we have learnt 

The lore of the all-wise One, 

By which we could stand unbumt, 

On the ridge of the seething sun: 

The moment we grasp at the clue. 

Long-lost and strangely riven, 

Which guides our soul to the True, 

And the Poet to Heaven. 

The world is wide, — these things are small,- 

If they be nothing, what is there at all? 



Half-Truth 

The words that trembled on your lips 
Were uttered not — ^I know it well; 
The tears that would your eyes eclipse 
Were checked and smothered, e'er they fell: 
The looks and smiles I gained from you 
Were little more than others won. 
And yet you are not wholly true, 
Nor wholly just what you have done. 

You know, at least you might have known, 
That every little grace you gave, — 
Your voice's somewhat lowered tone, — 
Your hand's faint shake or parting wave, — 
Your every s)mipathetic look 
At words that chanced your soul to touch 
While reading from some favourite book. 
Were much to me — alas, how much! 

You might have seen — ^perhaps you saw — 
How all of these were steps of hope 



LORD HOUGHTON 213 



On which I rose, in joy and awe, 
Up to my passion's lofty scope: 
How after each, a firmer tread 
I planted on the slippery ground, 
And higher raised my venturous head, 
And ever new assurance found. 

May be, without a further thought. 
It only pleased you thus to please. 
And thus to kindly feelings wrought 
You measured not the sweet degrees; 
Yet, though you hardly understood 
Where I was following at your call. 
You might — ^I dare to say you should — 
Have thought how far I had to fall. 

And thus when fallen, faint, and bruised, 

I see another's glad success, 

I may have wrongfully accused 

Your heart of vulgar fickleness: 

But even now, in calm review 

Of all I lost and all I won, 

I cannot deem you wholly true, 

Nor wholly just what you have done. 

(1840.) 

Shadows 

They seemed to those who saw them meet 

The casual friends of every day. 
Her smile was imdisturbed and sweet, 

His courtesy was free and gay. 

But yet if one the other's name 

In some unguarded moment heard, 
The heart, you thought so calm and tame. 

Would struggle like a captured bird: 

And letters of mere formal phrase 
Were blistered with repeated tears, — 

And this was not the work of days, 
But had gone on for years and years! 



2 14 THE ENGLISH POETS 

Alas! that Love was not too strong 
For maiden shame and manly pride! 

Alas! that they delayed so long 
The goal of mutual bliss beside. 

Yet what no chance could then reveal, 
And neither would be first to own, 

Let fate and courage now conceal, 
When truth could bring remorse alone. 



Mrs. Denison^ 

Tis right for her to sleep between 
Some of those old Cathedral- walls. 

And right too that her grave is green 
With all the dew and rain that falls. 

Tis well the organ's solemn sighs 
Should soar and sink around -her rest. 

And almost in her ear should rise 
The prayers of those she loved the best. 

Tis also well this air is stirred 

By Nature's voices loud and low. 
By thunder and the chirping bird. 

And grasses whispering as they grow. 

For all her spirit's earthly course 

Was as a lesson and a sign 
How to o'errule the hard divorce 

That parts things natural and divine. 

Undaunted by the clouds of fear, 

Undazzled by a happy day, 
She made a Heaven about her here. 

And took, how much! with her away. 

^ Mrs. Denison was the first wife of the Bishop of Salisbury, and is 
buried in a grassy space enclosed by the cloisters of that cathedral. 



LORD HOUGHTON 215 



The Brownie 

A gentle household Spirit, unchallenged and unpaid, 
Attended with his service a lonely servant-maid. 

She seemed a weary woman, who had found life imkind, 
Whose youth had left her early and little left behind. 

Most desolate and dreary her days went on until 
Arose this unseen stranger her labours to fulfil. 

But now she walked at leisure, secure of blame she slept. 
The meal was always ready, the room was always swept. 

And by the cheerful firelight, the winter evenings long, 

He gave her words of kindness and snatches of sweet song; — 

With useful housewife secret and tales of faeries fair, 

From times when gaunt magicians and dwarfs and giants were; — 

Thus, habit closing round her, by slow degrees she nurst 
A sense of trust and pleasure, where she had feared at first. 

When strange desire came on her, and shook her like a storm, 
To see this faithful being distinct in outward form. 

He was so pure a nature, of so benign a will. 

It could be nothing fearful, it could be nothing ill. 

At first with grave denial her prayer he laid aside, 
Then warning and entreaty, but all in vain, he tried. 

The wish upgrew to passion, — she urged him more and more, — 
Until, as one outwearied, but still lamenting sore, 

He promised in her chamber he would attend her call, 

When from the small high window the full-moon light should fall. 

Most proud and glad that evening she entered to behold 
How there her phantom Lover his presence would unfold; 

When, lo! in bloody pallor lay, on the moonlit floor, 

The Babe she bore and murdered some thirteen years before. 



ALEXANDER SMITH 

[Born at Kilmarnock, December 31, 1829. For many years a pattern- 
designer and afterwards a journalist, he obtained the secretaryship to 
Edinburgh University at the age of twenty-five, and held the post until 
his death on November 20, 1866. His published books of poems were 
A Life Drama and other Poems j 1852; Sonnets on the War (in conjunction 
with Sidney Dobell), 1855; City Poems y 1857; Edwin of Deira^ 186 1. 
He also wrote and published prose, his book of essays, Dreamihorpy being 
the work by which he is most widely known.] 

Into a not very voluminous body of work, Alexander Smith 
managed to pack almost every known poetic vice and some that 
must surely have waited for him to discover. If extremes of bad- 
ness alone could exclude a poet from consideration, Smith would 
have found no place in a collection such as this; he would, indeed, 
not have been even a name. His work is wild' with an almost con- 
stant confusion of hysteria with passion; every story he tells, and 
narrative was his favourite medium, is destroyed by an entirely 
erratic psychologic sense; he drops easily from the most hectic 
manner to such flatness as — 

"My heart is in the grave with her, 
The family went abroad; " 

his imagery can achieve a falsity which is almost revolting, as in — 

"As holds the wretched west the sunset's corpse; " 

and he writes habitually as though poetry should be a dissipation 
instead of a discipline. And yet, in spite of such cardinal and 
withering defects, which cannot but be allowed by the least sus- 
ceptible judgment, it is impossible to leave a reading of Smith's 
collected poems without a friendly feeling for the poet, and a willing 
concession that, however sadly they are obscured, here are qualities 
of an admirable kind: qualities indeed that are as rare as poetry 
itself. 

His defects are unfortunately of such a kind as to make it 
extremely difficult to give him any very gallant show by quotation, 
since he never flies clear of his bad habits for more than a few lines 



ALEXANDER SMITH 217 

at a time, never even for one complete short poem; and they make 
it still more difficult to hope that his due reward will ever come 
from any considerable public reading his work in its entirety, since 
they must bring nine readers out of ten to desperation long before 
the end is reached. Thus inexorably does the fastidious' art of 
poetry enforce its demand for nothing less than perfect service. 
Many poets with smaller natural endowment than Alexander Smith 
are and will be more carefully remembered, and to attempt to ar- 
rest judgment in these matters is futile. Nevertheless, it is 
pleasant to think a little of those finer strains in this strange 
energy, and to hope that in recording and illustrating them some- 
thing may be done to preserve from too deep a neglect a gift that 
more happily organized would certainly have won durable and 
high honour. 

Behind the undisciplined welter which earned for Smith and one 
or two of his contemporaries the name of "spasmodics," is a gen- 
uine poetic emotion, which for all its failure to find any sustained 
adequate expression, breaks into continual notes of energetic and 
sometimes impressive beauty. The faults, heavy as they are, are 
always the faults of a fervent, delighted nature, never of dull 
formality. Smith's poetry is under-educated, which at worst 
is better than being over-educated. And in addition to these 
recurrent glimpses of an ardent nature truly making some gesture 
for itself, we find scattered through his work traces of a vivacious 
descriptive faculty, touched by a companionably racy humour. It 
is, perhaps, in such shrewd and deft pictures as those of the Abbot 
and the Crown Inn, here given: in such lines of rough px)etic ^nse 

as — 

"You shine through each disguise; 

You are a masker in a mask of glass. . . " 

and such quick-wittedness as — 

"As gaily dight, 
As goldfinch swinging on a thistle top. . ." 

that his perception is most original and least clouded by poetic 
"smother." Finally, he must be allowed something at least of the 
story-teller's art. He never carries a tale through without dulling 
prolixity, and, as has been said, his grasp of motive is always 
uncertain ; but there are times, especially in the opening stages of 
Edwin of Deira^ and in the single incident of the assassin-beggar 
later in the same poem, where he does absorb the attention in the 



2i8 THE ENGLISH POETS 

movement of his narrative. I may say here, in opposition to the 
opinion of an eminent critic, that Edwin of Deira "might, without 
much loss, have remained unwritten," that this poem seems to me 
easily to be Smith's nearest approach to sustained achievement. 
If in iriere interest as a story the last two books had maintained 
the standard of the first two, the whole would have remained of a 
not very exalted kind, but in that kind quite notably good. The 
truth seems to be that Smith was chiefly ambitious to create poetry 
directly out of his emotional experience, to resolve his own soul into 
music, and that whenever he attempted to do this he was prostrated 
by a poetic excitement instead of being braced by poetic intensity, 
and that he was most successful when he was not too poignantly 
interested in some incident or image that left the balance of his 
own personality imdisturbed. 

To say that his poetry was under-educated is not to imply that 
he was unacquainted with the work of his fellow poets. On the 
contrary his knowledge of poetry has sometimes been held to show 
itself too emphatically in his own work. It is, rather, his art that is 
under-educated ; it is too argumentative, too anxiously active. His 
expression is under-deliberated and under-wrought. As for the 
direct influence of other men on his work, .little need be said of 
such occasional things as his — 

"And in your heart a linnet sits and sings," 

which recalls so closely Crashaw's — 

"Love's nightingales shall sit and sing." 

These parallels are common enough in every poet's work. But it 
is interesting to note that while Smith may confidently enough be 
said to have caught more than an accent at times from Tennyson, 
as he very honourably might do, it is not easy to point to particular 
passages that resemble the great Victorian poet, and yet it is very 
easy to find in Smith a strange likeness to another much later poet 
who also nourished his own rare if unfulfilled gift from Tennyson's 
riches, very probably without ever having read a line of Smith. 
Such lines as — 

"By hermit streams, by pale sea-setting stars 
And by the roaring of the storm- tost pines; 
And I have sought for thee upon the hills 
In dim sweet dreams, on the complacent sea, 
When breathless midnight . . ." 



and- 



and- 



ALEXANDER SMITH 219 

''He clasped his withered hands 
Fondly upon her head, and bent it back, 
As one might bend a downward-looking flower . . ." 



"Are farewells said in heaven? and has each bright 
And young divinity a sunset hour?" 

might in many ears miss anything characteristic of Tennyson, but 
they would hardly be challenged anywhere if they were set down as 
coming from Stephen Phillips. So obscurely do great influences 
assert themselves. 

John Drinewates. 



From "A Life Drama" (Scene VII) 

I '11 show you one who might have been an abbot 

In the old time; a large and portly man, 

With merry eyes, and crown that shines like glass. 

No thin-smiled April he, bedript with tears. 

But appled- Autumn, golden-cheeked and tan; 

A jest in his mouth feels sweet as crusted wine. 

As if all eager for a merry thought, 

The pits of laughter dimple in his cheeks. 

His speech is flavourous, evermore he talks 

In a warm, brown, autumnal sort of style. 

A worthy man. Sir! who shall stand at compt 

With conscience white, save some few stains of wine. 



Sonnet 

Like clouds or streams we wandered on at will, 
Three glorious days, till, near our journey's end. 
As down the moorland road we straight did wend. 
To Wordsworth's "Inversneyd," talking to kill 
The cold and cheerless drizzle in the air, 
'Bove me I saw, at pointing of my friend. 
An old Fort like a ghost upon the hill, 



220 THE ENGLISH POETS 

Stare in blank misery through the blinding rain, 

So human-like it seemed in its despair — 

So stunned with grief — ^long gazed at it we twain. 

Weary and damp we reached our poor abode, 

I, warmly seated in the chimney-nook, 

Still saw that old Fort o'er the moorland road 

Stare through the rain with strange woe-wildered look. 



From "Edwin of Deira" (Book I) 

Then at his wish, the haggard Prince was led 

To the great hall wherein was set the feast; 

And at his step, from out the smoky glare 

And gloom of guttering torches, weeping pitch, 

A hundred bearded faces were upraised, 

Flaming with mead: and from their masters' stools 

Great dogs upstarting snarled; and from the dais, 

The King, while wonder raised the eyebrow, asked 

What man he was? what business brought him there? 

When Edwin thus, the target of all eyes: 

"One who has brothered with the ghostly bats, 
That skim the twilight on their leathern wings, 
And with the rooks that caw in airy towns; 
One intimate with misery: who has known 
The fiend that in the hind's pinched entrail sits 
Devising treason, and the death of kings — ..." 



From "Horton" 

Can pensive Spring, a snowdrop in his hand, 

A solitary lark above his head, 

Laugh like the jovial sinner in his cups? 

I vote for Winter! Why, you know the "Crown," 

The rows of pewter winking in the light. 

The mighty egg-flip at the sanded bar. 

The nine-pins, skittles, silent dominoes, 



ALEXANDER SM^TH 221 

The bellied landlord with his purple head, 
Like a red cabbage on December morn 
Crusted with snow. His buxom daughter, Bess — 
A dahlia, not a rosebud — she who bears 
The foaming porter to the guests, and laughs 
The loudest at their wit. Can any Summer 
Build you a nest like that? 



From "Squire Maurice" 

Inland I wander slow, 
Mute with the power the earth and heaven wield: 
A black spot sails across the golden field, 
And through the air a crow. 
Before me wavers spring's first butterfly; 
From out the sunny noon there starts the cuckoo's cry; 
The daisied meads are musical with lambs; 
Some play, some feed, some, white as snow-flakes, lie 
In the deep simshine, by their silent dams. 
The road grows wide and level to the feet; 
The wandering woodbine through the hedge is drawn 
Unblown its streaky bugles dim and sweet; 
Knee-deep in fern stand startled doe and fawn. 
And lo! there gleams upon a spacious lawn 
An Earl's marine retreat. 
A little footpath quivers up the height, 
And what a vision for a townsman's sight! 
A village, peeping from its orchard bloom, 
With lowly roofs of thatch, blue threads of smoke, 
O'erlooking all, a parsonage of white. 
I hear the smithy's hammer, stroke on stroke, 
A steed is at the door; the rustics talk. 
Proud of the notice of the gaitered groom; 
A shallow river breaks o'er shallow falls. 
Beside the ancient sluice that turns the mill 
The lusty miller bawls; 
The parson listens in his garden-walk. 
The red-cloaked woman pauses on the hill, 
This is a place, you say, exempt from ill,. 
A paradise, where, all the loitering day. 



222 THE ENGLISH POETS 

Enamoured pigeons coo upon the roof, 

Where children ever play. — 

Alas! Time's webs are rotten, warp and woof; 

Rotten his cloth of gold, his coarsest wear: 

Here, black-eyed Richard ruins red-cheeked Moll, 

Indifferent as a lord to her despair. 

The broken barrow hates the prosperous dray; 

And, for a padded pew in which to pray, 

The grocer sells his soul. 



JEAN INGELOW 

[BoKN 1820 at Boston, Lincolnshire, of an English father and a Scot- 
tish mother. She spent her youth in the Fen country which she so often 
describes in her verses, and soon after i860 fixed her home in London, 
where she died in 1897. ^ 1S50 she published a volume of small im- 
portance; this was followed in 1863 by the Poems which made her repu- 
tation. This book ran through many editions, and four years later was 
issued in a volume illustrated by many of the best artists, which had so 
much success that twelve years later the 23rd edition was announced, 
while in America it is said that over 200,000 copies of her works were 
sold. After 1864 she wrote many novels and was particularly happy in 
her various stories for children.] 

When Jean Ingelow published her first book, A Rhyming Chron- 
icle, in 1849 or 1850, a relative of hers sent it to Tennyson and he 
acknowledged it saying: "Your cousin must be worth knowing; 
there are some very charming things in her book." Then followed 
some rather sharp criticisms, and it may have been in part owing 
to them that the young lady hesitated for a dozen years before 
issuing another volume. That however, the Poems of 1863, had 
great and immediate success, for although it failed to satisfy readers 
in search of profound thought or exceptional technique, it appealed 
to that wide public which seeks for common themes intelligibly 
treated, tender feeling, and melodious verse. Nobody, not even the 
schoolgirls who adored her, ever claimed for Miss Ingelow a place 
among the great poets, but thousands of quiet folk enjoyed her 
ballads, her narratives, and her songs, because they expressed in a 
charming way the thoughts of which they themselves had been 
vaguely conscious and described in clear language situations and 
characters that they could understand and appreciate. The poems 
which we have selected, and which will be well known to the 
older generation of readers, will explain and justify this success, and 
those who read them, whether for the first time or as pieces with 
which they were once familiar, will admit that a poem so true and 
so tragic as The High Tide, or such a song as When Sparrows 
Build, are worth preserving and that their author ought not to be 

forgotten. p'^™^ 

Editos. 



224 THE ENGLISH POETS 



The High Tide on the Coast of Lincolnshire 

The old mayor climbed the belfry tower, 
The ringers ran by two, by three; 

"Pull, if ye never pulled before; 
Good ringers, piill your best," quoth he. 

"Play uppe, play uppe, O Boston Bells! 
Ply all your changes, all your swells. 
Play uppe 'The Brides of EnderbyM" 

Men say it was a stolen tyde — 
The Lord that sent it. He knows all; 

But in myne ears doth still abide 
The message that the bells let fall: 

And there was nought of strange, beside 

The flights of mews and peewits pied 
By millions crouched on the old sea wall. 

I sat and spim within the doore, 

My thread brake off, I raised myne eyes 

The level sun, like ruddy ore, 
Lay sinking in the barren skies, 

And dark against day's golden death 

She moved where Lindis wandereth, 

My sonnets faire wife, Elizabeth. 

"Cusha! Cusha! Cusha!" calling, 
"For the dews will soone be failing; 
Leave your meadow grasses mellow. 

Mellow, mellow; 
Quit your cowslips, cowslips yellow; 
Come uppe Whitefoot, come uppe Lightfoot, 
Quit the stalks of parsley hollow. 

Hollow, hollow; 
Come uppe Jetty, rise and follow. 
From the clovers lift your head; 
Come uppe Whitefoot, come uppe Lightfoot, 
Come uppe Jetty, rise and follow. 
Jetty, to the miUdng shed." 



JEAN INGELOW 225 



If it be long, ay, long ago, 

When I beginne to think howe long, 
Againe I hear the Lindis flow, 

Swift as an arrowe, sharpe and strong; 
And all the aire, it seemeth mee, 
Bin full of floating bells (sayth shee) 
That ring the tune of Enderby; 

Alle fresh the level pasture lay. 
And not a shadow mote be seene, 

Save where full five good miles away 
The steeple tower 'd from out the greene; 

And lo! the great bell farre and wide 

Was heard in all the country-side 

That Saturday at eventide. 

The swanherds where their sedges are 
Moved on in sunset's golden breath. 

The shepherde lads I heard afarre, 
And my sonnets wife, Elizabeth; 

Till floating o'er the grassy sea 

Came down that kyndly message free, 

The "Brides of Mavis Enderby." 

Then some looked Uppe into the sky. 
And all along where Lindis flows 

To where the goodly vessels lie, 
And where the lordly steeple shows; 

They sayde, "And why should this thing be! 

What danger lowers by land or sea? 

They ring the tune of Enderby! 

"For evil news from Mablethorpe, 
Of pyrate galleys warping down; 
For shippes ashore beyonde the scorpe. 

They have not spared to wake the towne: 
But while the west bin red to see. 
And storms be none, and pyrates flee. 
Why ring *The Brides of Enderby?" 



226 THE ENGLISH POETS 

I looked without, and lo! my sonne 

Came riding downe with might and main: 
He raised a shout as he drew on, 
Till all the welkin rang again, 
"Elizabeth! Elizabeth!" 
(A sweeter woman ne'er drew breath 
Than my sdn's wife, Elizabeth.) 

"The old sea wall (he cried) is downe. 
The rising tide comes on apace, 

And boats adrift in yonder towne 
Go sailing uppe the market-place." 

He shook as one that looks on death: 

"God save you, mother!" straight he saith; 

"Where is my wife, Elizabeth?" 

" Good Sonne, where Lindis winds away. 

With her two bairns I marked her long; 
And ere yon bells beganne to play 
Afar I heard her milking song." 
He looked across the grassy lea, 
To right, to left, "Ho Enderby!" 
They rang "The Brides of Enderby"! 

With that he cried and beat his breast; 

For lo! along the river's bed 
A mighty eygre reared his crest, 

And uppe the Lindis raging sped. 
It swept with thunderous noises loud; 
Shaped like a curling snow-white cloud, 
Or like a demon in a shroud. 



And rearing Lindis backward pressed 

Shook all her trembling bankes amaine; 
Then madly at the eygre's breast 

Flung up her weltering walls again. 
Then bankes came downe with ruin and rout- 
Then beaten foam flew round about — 
Then all the mighty floods were out. 



JEAN INGEWW 227 



So far, so fast the eygre drave, 
The heart had hardly time to beat, 

Before a shallow seething wave 
Sobbed in the grasses at oure feet: 

The feet had hardly time to flee 

Before it brake against the knee, 

And all the world was in the sea. 

Upon the roofe we sat that night, 

The noise of bells went sweeping by; 
' I marked the lofty beacon light 

Stream from the church tower, red and high- 

A lurid mark and dread to see; 

And awesome bells they were to mee. 

That in the dark rang "Enderby." 

They rang the sailor lads to guide 
From roofe to roofe who fearless rowed; 

And I — ^my sonne was at my side, 
And yet the ruddy beacon glowed; 

And yet he moaned beneath his breath, 

"O come in life, or come in death! 

O lost! my love, Elizabeth." 

And didst thou visit him no more? 

Thou didst, thou didst, my daughter deare; 
The waters laid thee at his doore. 

Ere yet the early dawn was clear. 
Thy pretty bairns in fast embrace. 
The lifted sun shone on thy face, 
Downe drifted to thy dwelling-place. 

That flow strewed wrecks about the grass. 
That ebbe swept out the flocks to sea; 

A fatal ebbe and flow, alas! 
To manye more than myne and mee: 

But each will mourn his own (she saith), 

And sweeter woman ne'er drew breath 

Than my Sonne's wife, Elizabeth. 



228 THE ENGLISH POETS 

I shall never hear her more, 
By the reedy Lindis shore, 
"Cusha! Cusha! Cusha!" calling 
Ere the early dews be falling; 
I shall never hear her song, 
"Cusha! Cusha!" all along 
Where the sunny Lindis floweth, 

Goeth, floweth; 
From the meads where melick groweth, 
When the water winding down, 
Onward floweth to the town. 
I shall never see her more 
Where the reeds and rushes quiver, 

Shiver, quiver; 
Stand beside the sobbing river. 
Sobbing, throbbing in its falling 
To the sandy lonesome shore; 
I shall never hear her calling, 
"Leave your meadow grasses mellow, 

Mellow, mellow; 
Quit your cowslips, cowslips yellow; 
Come uppe Whitefoot, Come uppe Lightfoot; 
Quit your pipes of parsley hollow, 

Hollow, hollow; 
Come uppe Lightfoot, rise and follow; 

Lightfoot, Whitefoot, 
From your clovers lift your head; 
Come uppe Jetty, follow, follow. 
Jetty to the milking shed." 



When Sparrows Build 

When sparrows build, and the leaves break forth. 

My old sorrow wakes and cries. 
For I know there is dawn in the far, far north. 

And a scarlet sun doth rise; 
Like a scarlet fleece the snow-field spreads. 

And the icy founts run free. 
And the bergs begin to bow their heads. 

And plunge, and sail in the sea. 



JEAN INGEWW 229 



O my lost love, and my own, own love. 

And my love that loved me so! 
Is there never a chink in the world above 

Where they listen for words from below? 
Nay, I spoke once, and I grieved thee sore, 

I remember all that I said, 
And now thou wilt hear me no more — ^no more 

Till the sea gives up her dead. 

Thou didst set thy foot on the ship, and sail 

To the ice-fields and the snow; 
Thou wert sad, for thy love did nought avail, 

And the end I could not know; 
How could I tell I should love thee to-day, . 

Whom that day I held not dear? 
How could I know I should love thee away 

When I did not love thee anear? 

We shall walk no more through the sodden plain 

With the faded bents o'erspread. 
We shall stand no more by the seething main 

While the dark wrack drives overhead; 
We shall part no more in the wind and the rain. 

Where thy last farewell was said; 
But perhaps I shall meet thee and know thee again 

When the sea gives up her dead. 



COVENTRY PATMORE 

[Eldest son of Peter George Patmore; bom July 23, 1823, at Wood- 
ford in Essex; educated at home by his father, who ''did all he could to 
develope in him an ardour for poetry." He went to Paris and began to 
write verses in 1839. He published PoemSf 1844. From 1846 to 1865 he 
was an assistant in the Library of the British Museum. Tamerton Church- 
Tower, 1853; The Betrothaly 1854; The Espousals, 1856; Faithful for Ever, 
i860; The Victories of Love. 1863; were instalments of a single narrative- 
poem, The Angel in the House. Patmore was married in 1847, again in 
1865, and a third time in 188 1. He settled at Heron's Ghyll, in Sussex, 
and printed his Odes in 1868. These, much enlarged, form The Unknown 
Eros, of 1877. His prose essays were published as Principle in Art, 1889; 
Religio Poetae, 1893; and The Rod, the Root, and the Flower, 1895. He 
lived in Hastings from 1875 to 1891, when he removed to Lymington, 
where he died on November 26, 1896.I 

When, in 1886, Patmore rightly judged that he had closed his 
task as a poet, he solemnly recorded that he had 

"traversed the ground and reached the end which, in my youth, I saw 
before me. I have written little, but it is all my best; I have never spoken 
when I had nothing to say, nor spared time or labour to make my words 
true. 1 have respected posterity, and should there be a posterity which 
cares for letters, I dare to hope that it will respect me.** 

When he wrote these words he had teen a practising poet for 
forty-seven years, but with long intervals of silence and retirement. 
It was part of Coventry Patmore's intellectual creed to regard the 
writing of verse as by no means the exclusive or perhaps even 
main occupation of a poet. Hence he was content to spend months 
and even years in meditation, during which he filled the cells of his 
nature with the material for poetry. Between the ages of thirty 
and forty he composed steadily, though even then not abimdantly ; 
while, during all the other years of his life, his actual writing was 
performed at long intervals, in feverish spurts. This mode of 
production is worthy of notice in Patmore's case, because of the 
extraordinary concentration of his thought and will on the vocation 
of the poet. The intention to write was never out of his mind, and 



COVENTRY PATMORE 231 

yet he had the power of will to refuse himself the satisfaction of 
writing except on those rare occasions when he felt capable of doing 
his best. 

From childhood to the grave Coventry Patmore was supported 
and impelled by the conviction that he had a certain mission to 
perform. His sense of how this was to be carried out became 
modified, but of the mission itself he never had the slightest doubt. 
He believed himself to be called upon to celebrate Nuptial Love, 
"the more serious importance of which had been singularly missed 
by most poets of all countries," as he told Aubrey de Vere in 1850. 
As time went on, this theme became rarified and spiritualized in 
his mind ; it took more and more a sacramental character. What 
had begun with the simple amativeness of Tamerton Church-Tower 
closed in the Catholic transcendentalism of the Eros and Psyche 
odes. "At nine years old I was Love's willing Page," he said in his 
youth, and in his final maturity he declared that "Love makes life 
to be a fount perpetual of virginity." The point of view changed, 
the essential conviction was the same. 

It is plain that at the opening of his career Patmore conceived 
that to carry out his scheme with any measure of success it would 
be necessary to adopt an objective treatment. The mere subjective 
method, the lyrical cry of the enamoured youth in person, would 
not be suitable, because so obvious in expression and so easily mis- 
construed. The crude and flat romances of 1844, Lilian and Sir 
Hubert J which he so carefully suppressed; the less garrulous but 
highly sentimental The River and The Woodman's Daughter ^ which 
he laboriously re-wrote and condensed; have the value of showing 
us that from his boyhood, Patmore determined to make verse- 
narrative the vehicle of his message to mankind. There could 
reaUy be only one story of fortunate nuptial love, and when he 
finally adopted a form of it, it turned out, rather exasperatingly, to 
resemble the scenario of some novel by Anthony TroUope or Miss 
Charlotte Yonge. This quality, the trivial realism of the narrative 
in The Angel of the House, attracted a multitude of readers and at 
the same time obscured the splendour of the essential part of the 
poem, so that the very popularity of Patmore's great undertaking 
delayed and falsified his ultimate success. That success consisted, 
not in the mild adventures of Honoria and her spouse, but in the 
magnificence of the philosophical episodes, in which the psychology 
of love is illustrated in language of great originality and with turns 
of the most felicitous fancy. 



232 THE ENGLISH POETS 

The link between the finished, or at least suspended, Angd in 
the Hause and the transcendental Odes which dosed Patmore's 
poetical career, is to be found in Amelia, in which something of the 
earlier narrative manner is retained, but where utterance of studied 
simplicity is abruptly abandoned in favour of a brocaded splendour 
of language. Instead of the light and fluent octosyllabics of The 
Angd in the House Patmore now adopted, and continued to the 
end to use, a sort of canzone or false Pindaric, the theory of which 
he defended with ardour, but of which there is Httle more to be said 
than that it justifies itself by enshrining much of the noblest of his 
own poetry. Amelia is a variant of the universal Patmore theme, 
the superficial instinct of human desire being depicted as mirroring 
the profoimd passion of heavenly love; the poem is distinguished 
from its predecessors by a greater audacity of expression, illustrated 
by an extreme vividness of colouring; and from its long series of 
successors by the fact that it preserves an objective attitude, which 
Patmore thereafter almost completely abandoned. 

We are now at liberty to turn to the product of Patmore's later 
years, to The Unknown Eros and the various fragments which are 
dependent on that group of poems. This body of verse consists of 
about fifty odes of various length, all in the Pindaric form which 
has been mentioned above. There is reason to suppose that these 
poems should be regarded as fragments of a great work which 
Patmore began to design after his retirement from official life and 
settlement at Heron's Ghyll. This followed upon his admission 
into the Roman Catholic Church and his visit to Rome in 1864. It 
is beheved that he intended to write a sort of spiritual autobiogra- 
phy, in the form of a celebration of the beauty of service to the 
Blessed Virgin. He did not, however, speak out very plainly about 
his intention, and we have to deal with the numbers of The Un- 
known Eros as we find them. What, then, we find is a series of 
lyrics, written in what he called "catalectic" metre, very diflferent 
in subject, but similar in their earnest and uplifted emotion, in their 
mystical symbolism, and in their total independence of all con- 
temporary influences. In The Angd in the Hotisi an unconscious 
emulation with Tennyson had been apparent; the odes faintly 
recall Milton and Cowley, but contain scarcely an echo of any more 
recent voice. 

The contrast between the new rapture and the apparent levity 
of the old narrative manner was so great as to blind the earliest 
readers of the odes to their quahty. Patmore privately printed 



COVENTRY PATMORE 233 

an instalment of nine of these in 1868 and distributed them among 
his friends, not one of whom seems to have perceived their merit. 
It is true that his selection was from among the most abstruse and 
least attractive of the poems, but it included so amusing a fling 
at sdencc as The Two Deserts and so splendid an example of Pat- 
more's highest lyrical achievement as (what has since been known 
as) Delici^ie SaffierUiae deAmore, No one, at all events, was pleased 
or even interested, and the poet, excessively chagrined, rended 
and burned the remainder of the 1868 edition. He went on 
writing, however, and by the time when, in 1877, he published The 
Unknown Eros, the eyes of a new generation had been opened to 
the majesty of his vision and the penetration of his thought. 

The odes of The Unknown Eros are now introduced by a " Proem " 
which gives a somewhat inexact impression of what is to follow. 
It insists to excess on the political character of the work, which is 
only part of the revelation in it of Patmore's private convictions. 
He took a very dark view of the social and political condition of 
England fifty years ago, and was inclined to look upon himself as 
the only inspired prophet of her melancholy future: 

"Mid the loud concert harsh 
Of this fog-folded marsh, 
To me, else dumb, 
Uranian Clearness, come!" 

he sang with tragic fatalism. But England contrived to escape 
the horrors of his prognostication, and the political portions of The 
Unknown Eros are now not impressive. They are, fortunately, 
not numerous; and the reader turns from them to the odes in 
which the poet reveals his own experience, often, as in St. Valen- 
tine's Day, with a Wordsworthian felicity, and amid a profusion of 
beautiful landscape touches. Even more charming are the odes 
devoted to sentiments of remorse, of recollection or of poignant 
desiderium, the hopeless longing for a vanished face. In these 
categories The Azalea, The Toys, and Departure rank among the 
finest examples remaining to us of pure Victorian poetry. 

But some parts of The Unknown Eros, and especially of the 
Second Book, are much more abstruse. In these sacramental odes, 
Patmore is often metaphysical, and sometimes dark with excess of 
ingenuity. His mystical Catholic poetry is inspired by a study of 
St. Thomas Aquinas among the ancients and of St. John of the 
Cross among the modems. As .he pursued his lonely meditations, 



234 THE ENGLISH POETS 

his odes became more and more exclusively occupied with the 
religious symbolism of sex, culminatmg in The Child^s Purchase and 
in De Natura Deorum. Perhaps in the latest of all his poems — ^in 
The Three Witnesses (originally called Scire Teipsum), written 
in 1880 — ^Patmore carries his mystical ecstasy to its most transcen- 
dental height, where few can follow him. It is strange to contrast 
the almost puerile simplicity of his early narrative manner with the 
harsh and incisive arrogance of his latest lyrics, yet there is a unity 
running through the whole of Patmore's work which is that of 
a highly original and passionate writer to whom scarcely anything 
was denied except pertinacity in the art of construction. 

Edmund Gosse. 



Eros 

Bright thro' the valley gallops the brooklet; 

Over the welkin travels the cloud; 
Touched by the zephyr, dances the harebell; 

Cuckoo sits somewhere, singing so loud; 
Two little children, seeing and hearing, 

Hand in hand wander, shout, laugh, and sing: 
Lo, in their bosoms, wild with the marvel. 

Love, like the crocus, is come ere the Spring. 
Young men and women, noble and tender, 

Yearn for each other, faith truly plight. 
Promise to cherish, comfort and honour; 

Vow that makes duty one with delight. 
Oh, but the glory, found in no story, 

Radiance of Eden unquench^d by the Fall; 
Few may remember, none may reveal it. 

This Uie first first-love, the first love of all! 



Night and Sleep 

I 

How strange at night to wake 
And watch, while others sleep. 

Till sight and hearing ache 
For objects that may keep 



COVENTRY PATMORE 235 

The awful inner sense 

Unroused, lest it should mark 
The life thkt haunts the emptiness 

And horror of the dark! 



How strange the distant bay 

Of dogs; how wild the note 
Of cocks that scream for day, 

In homesteads far remote; 
How strange and wild to hear 

The old and crumbling tower, 
Amidst the darkness, suddenly 

Take tongue and speak the hour! 

m 

Albeit the love-sick brain 

AflFects the dreary moon, 
111 things alone refrain 

From life's nocturnal swoon: 
Men melancholy mad, 

Beasts ravenous and sly. 
The robber and the murderer, 

Remorse, with lidless eye. 

IV 

The nightingale is gay. 

For she can vanquish night; 
Dreaming, she sings of day. 

Notes that make darkness bright; 
But when the refluent gloom 

Saddens the gaps of song, 
Men charge on her the dolefulness, 

And call her crazed with wrong. 



If dreams or panic dread 
Reveal the gloom of gloom, 

Kiss thou the pillowed head 
By thine, and soft resume 



236 THE ENGLISH POETS 

The confident embrace; 

And so each other keep 
In the sure league of amity 

And the safe lap of sleep. 



From "Tamerton Church-Tower" (IV. 7 and 8) 

I mounted, now, my patient nag, 

And scaled the easy steep; 
And soon beheld the quiet flag 

On Lanson's solemn Keep. 
And now, whenas the waking lights 

Bespake the valley'd Town, 
A child overtook me, on the heights, 

In cap and russet gown. 
It was an alms-taught scholar trim, 

Who, on her happy way. 
Sang to herself the morrow*s hymn; 

For this was Saturday. 
"Saint Stephen, stoned, nor grieved nor groaned: 

Twas all for his good gain; 
For Christ him blest, till he confessed 

A sweet content in pain. 
"Then Christ His cross is no way loss. 

But even a present boon: 
Of His dear blood fair shines a flood 

On heaven's eternal noon." 
My sight, once more, was dim for her 

Who slept beneath the sea. 
As on I sped, without the spur. 

By homestead, heath, and lea. 
Overhead the perfect moon kept pace, 

In meek and brilliant power. 
And lit, ere long, the eastern face 

Of Tamerton Church-tower. 



COVENTRY PATMORE 237 

[Fiom The Angd in the Eotise^ 
The Poet's Confidence 

The richest realm of all the earth 

Is counted stiU a heathen land: 
Lo, I, like Joshua, now go forth 

To give it into Israers hand. 
I will not hearken blame or praise; 

For so should I dishonour do 
To that sweet Power by which these Lays 

Alone are lovely, good, and true; 
Nor credence to the world's cries give, 

Which ever preach and still prevent 
Pure passion's high prerogative 

To make, not follow, precedent. 



Love at Large 

Whene'er I come where ladies are. 

How sad soever I was before. 
Though like a ship frost-bound and far 

Withheld in ice from the ocean's roar, 
Third-winter'd in that dreadful dock. 

With stiffen'd cordage, sails decay'd. 
And crew that care for calm and shock 

Alike, too dull to be dismay'd. 
Yet, if I come where ladies are, 
. How sad soever I was before. 
Then is my sadness banish'd far. 

And I am like that ship no more; 
Or like that ship if the ice-field splits. 

Burst by the sudden polar Spring, 
And all thank God with their warming wits. 

And kiss each other and dance and sing, 
And hoist fresh sails, that make the breeze 

Blow them along the liquid sea. 
Out of the North, where life did freeze. 

Into the haven where they would be. 



238 THE ENGLISH POETS 



The Lover 

He meets, by heavenly chance express, 

The destined maid; some hidden hand 
Unveils to him that loveliness 

Which others cannot understand. 
His merits in her presence grow, 

To match the promise in her eyes, 
And round her happy footsteps blow 

The authentic airs of Paradise. 
For joy of her he cannot sleep; 

Her beauty haunts him all the night; 
It melts his heart, it makes him weep 

For wonder, worship, and delight. 
O, paradox of love, he longs, 

Most humble when he most aspires. 
To sufiFer scorn and cruel wrongs 

From her he honours and desires. 
Her graces make him rich, and ask 

No guerdon; this imperial style 
Affronts him; he disdains to bask, 

The pensioner of her priceless smile. 
He prays for some hard thing to do. 

Some work of fame and labour immense. 
To stretch the languid bulk and thew 

Of love's fresh-born magnipotence. 
No smallest boon were bought too dear. 

Though bartered for his love-sick life; 
Yet trusts he, with undaunted cheer, 

To vanquish heaven, and call her Wife. 
He notes how queens of sweetness still 

Neglect their crowns, and stoop to mate; 
How, self-consign'd with lavish will. 

They ask but love proportionate; 
How swift pursuit by small degrees. 

Love's tactic, works like miracle; 
How valour, clothed in courtesies. 

Brings down the haughtiest citadel; 



COVENTRY PATMORE 239 

And therefore, though he merits not 

To kiss the braid upon her skirt, 
His hope, discouraged ne'er a jot. 

Out-soars all possible desert. 



The Revelation 

An idle poet, here and there. 

Looks round him; but, for all the rest, 
The world, unfathomably fair. 

Is duller than a witling's jest. 
Love wakes men, once a lifetime each; 

They lift their heavy lids, and look; 
And, lo, what one sweet page can teach, 

They read with joy, then shut the book. 
And some give thanks, and some blaspheme. 

And most forget; but, either way. 
That and the Child's unheeded dream 

Is all the light of all their day. 



The Amaranth 

Feasts satiate; stars distress with height; 

Friendship means well, but misses reach, 
And wearies in its best delight 

Vex'd with the vanities of speech; 
Too long regarded, roses even 

Afflict the mind with fond unrest; 
And to converse direct with Heaven 

Is oft a labour in the breast; 
Whate'er the up-looking soul admires 

Whate'er the senses' banquet be. 
Fatigues at last with vain desires. 

Or sickens by satiety; 
But truly my delight was more 

In her to whom I'm bound for aye 
Yesterday than the day before. 

And more to-day than yesterday. 



240 THE ENGLISH POETS 



Lovf/s Perversity 

How strange a thing a lover seems 

To animals that do not love! 
Lo, where he walks and talks in dreams, 

And flouts us with his Lady*s glove; 
How foreign in the garb he wears; 

And how his great devotion mocks 
Our poor propriety, and scares 

The undevout with paradox! 
His soul, through scorn of worldly care, 

And great extremes of sweet and gall. 
And musing much on all that 's fair, 

Grows witty and fantastical; 
He sobs his joy and sings his grief, 

And evermore finds such delight 
In simply picturing his relief 

That 'plaining seems to cure his plight; 
He makes his sorrow, when there 's none; 

His fancy blows both cold and hot; 
Next to the wish that she '11 be won. 

His first hope is that she may ftot; 
He sues, yet deprecates consent; 

Would she be captured she must fly; 
She looks too happy and content. 

For whose last pleasure he would die. 
Oh, cruelty, she cannot care 

For one to whom she 's always kind! 
He says he 's nought, but, oh, despair, 

If he 's not Jove to her fond mind! 
He 's jealous if she pets a dove, 

She must be his with all her soul; 
Yet 'tis a postulate in love 

That part is greater than the whole; 
And all his apprehension's stress. 

When he 's with her, regards her hair, 
Her hand, a ribbon of her dress. 

As if his life were only there; 
Because she 's constant, he will change, 

And kindest glances coldly meet, 



COVENTRY PATMORE 241 

And, all the time he seems so strange, 

His soul is fawning at her feet; 
Of smiles and simple heaven grown tired, 

He wickedly provokes her tears. 
And when she weeps, as he desired, 

Falls slain with ecstasies of fears; 
He blames her, though she has no fault, 

Except the folly to be his; 
He worships her, the more to exalt 

The profanation of a kiss; 
Health 's his disease; he 's never well 

But when his paleness shames her rose; 
His faith 's a rock-built citadel. 

Its sign a flag that each way blows; 
His o'erfed fancy frets and fumes; 

And Love, in him, is fierce, like Hate, 
And ruffles his ambrosial plumes 

Against the bars of time and fate. 



From "Amelia" 

While, therefore, now 
Her pensive footstep stirr'd 
The damell'd garden ofunheedful death. 
She ask'd what Millicent was like, and heard 
Of eyes like her*s, and honeysuckle breath. 
And of a wiser than a woman's brow, 
Yet fill'd with only woman's love, and how 
An incidental greatness charactered 
Her unconsidered ways. 
But all my praise 

Amelia thought too slight for Millicent, 
And on my lovelier-freighted arm she leant. 
For more attent; 
And the tea-rose I gave. 

To deck her breast, she dropped upon. the grave. 
"And this was her's," said I, decoring with a band 
Of mildest pearls Amelia's milder hand. 



242 THE ENGLISH POETS 

"Nay I will wear it for her sake," she said: 
For dear to maidens are their rivals dead. 

And so, 
She seated on the black yew's tortured root, 
I on the carpet of sere shreds below, 
And nigh the little mound where lay that other, 
I kissed her lips three times without dispute, 
And, with bold worship suddenly aglow, 
I lifted to my lips a sandalFd foot 
And kissed it three times thrice without dispute. 
Upon my head her fingers fell like snow. 
Her lamb-like hands about my neck she wreathed. 
Her arms like slumber o'er my shoulders crept, 
And with her bosom, whence the azalea breathed, 
She did my face full favourably smother, 
To hide the heaving secret that she wept! 

Now would I keep my promise to her Mother; 
Now I arose, and raised her to her feet. 
My best Amelia, fresh-bom from a kiss, 
Moth-like, full-blown in birthdew shuddering sweet. 
With great, kind eyes, in whose brown shade 
Bright Venus and her Baby play'd! 

At inmost heart well pleased with one another. 
What time the slant sun low 

Through the ploughed field does each clod sharply shew, 
And softly fills 

With shade the dimples of our homeward hills. 
With little said. 

We left the 'wilder'd garden of the dead. 
And gain'd the gorse-lit shoulder of the down 
That keeps the north-wind from the nestling town. 
And caught, once more, the vision of the wave, 
Where, on the horizon's dip, 
A many-sailed ship 

Pursued alone her distant purpose grave; 
And, by steep steps rock-hewn, to the dim street 
I led her sacred feet; 
And so the Daughter gave. 
Soft, moth-like, sweet, 
Showy as daniask-rose and shy as musk, 
Back to her Mother, anxious in the dusk. 



COVENTRY PATMORE 243 

And now "Good night!" 
Me shall the phantom months no more affright. 
For heaven's gates to open well waits he 
Who keeps himself the key. 



[From The Unknown Eros] 

Winter 

I, singularly moved 
To love the lovely that are not beloved, 
Of all the Seasons, most 
Love. Winter, and to trace 
The sense of the Trophonian pallor on her face. 
It is not death, but plenitude of peace; 
And the dim cloud tiiat does the world enfold 
Hath less the characters of dark and cold 
Than warmth and light asleep, 
And correspondent breathing seems to keep 
With the infant harvest, breathing soft below 
Its eider coverlet of snow. 
Nor is in field or garden anything 
But, duly look'd into, contains serene 
The substance of things hoped for, in the Spring, 
And evidence of Summer not yet seen. 
On every chance-mild day 
That visits the moist shaw. 
The honeysuckle, 'sdaining to be crost 
In urgence of sweet Hfe by sleet or frost, 
'Voids the time's law 
With stiQ increase 

Of leaflet new, and little, wandering spray; 
Often, in sheltering brakes, 
As one from rest disturbed in the first hour, 
Primrose or violet bewilder'd wakes, 
And deems 'tis time to flower; 
Though not a whisper of her voice he hear. 
The buried bulb does know 
The signals of the year. 
And hails far Summer with his lifted spear. 



244 THE ENGLISH POETS 

The gorse-field dark, by sudden, gold caprice, 

Turns, here and there, into a Jason's fleece; 

Lilies, that soon in Autumn slipped their gowns of green, 

And vanished into earth. 

And came again, ere Autumn died, to birth, 

Stand full array'd, amidst the wavering shower, 

And perfect for the Summer, less the flower; 

In nook of pale or crevice of crude bark, 

Thou canst not miss, 

If close thou spy, to mark 

The ghostly chrysalis, 

That, if thou touch it, stirs in its dream dark ; 

And the flushed Robin, in the evenings hoar, 

Does of Love's Day, as if he saw it, sing; 

But sweeter yet than dream or song of Summer or Spring 

Are Winter's sometime smiles, that seem to well 

From infancy ineffable; 

Her wandering, languorous gaze. 

So unfamiliar, so without amaze, 

On the elemental, chill adversity. 

The uncomprehended rudeness; and her sigh 

And solemn, gathering tear, 

And look of exile from some great repose, the sphere 

Of ether, moved by ether only, or 

By something still more tranquil. 



The Azalea 

There, where the sun shines first 
Against our room. 

She trained the gold Azalea, whose perfume 
She, Spring-like, from her breathing grace dispersed. 
Last night the delicate crests of saffron bloom. 
For this their dainty likeness watch'd and nurst. 
Were just at point to burst. 
At dawn I dream'd, O God, that she was dead, 
And groan'd aloud upon my wretched bed, 
And waked, ah, God, and did not waken her, 
But lay, with eyes still closed, 
Perfectly bless'd in the delicious sphere 



COVENTRY PATMORE 245 

By which I knew so well that she was near, 

My heart to speechless thankfulness composed. 

Till 'gan to stir 

A dizzy somewhat in my troubled head — 

It was the azalea's breath, and she was dead! 

The warm night had the lingering buds disclosed, 

And I had fall'n asleep with to my breast 

A chance-found letter pressed 

In which she said, 

"So, till to-morrow eve, my Own, adieu! 

Parting 's well-paid with soon again to meet. 

Soon in your arms to feel so small and sweet. 

Sweet to myself that am so sweet to you!" 



Depasture 

It was not like your great and gracious ways! 
Do you, that have nought other to lament, 
Never, my Love, rej)ent 
Of how, that July afternoon, 
You went. 

With sudden, unintelligible phrase. 
And frightened eye. 
Upon your journey of so many days. 
Without a single kiss, or a good-bye? 
I knew, indeed, that you were parting soon ; 
And so we sate, within the low sun's rays. 
You whispering to me, for your voice was weak, 
Your harrowing praise. 
Well, it was well. 
To hear you such things speak, 
And I could tell 

What made your eyes a growing gloom of love. 
As a warm South-wind sombres a March grove. 
And it was like your great and gracious ways 
To turn your talk on daily things, my Dear, 
Lifting the luminous, pathetic lash 
To let the laughter flash. 
Whilst I drew near. 
Because you spoke so low that I could scarcely hear. 



246 THE ENGLISH POETS 

But all at once to leave me at the last, 

More at the wonder than the loss aghast, 

With huddled, unintelligible phrase, 

And frightened eye, 

And go your journey of all days 

With not one kiss, or a good-bye, 

And the only loveless look the look with which you pass'd: 

'Twas all unlike your great and gracious ways. 



The Toys 

My little Son, who looked from thoughtful eyes 
And moved and spoke in quiet grown-up wise. 
Having my law the seventh time disobeyed, 
I struck him, and dismissed 
With hard words and unkiss'd, 
His Mother, who was patient, being dead. 
Then, fearing lest his grief should hinder sleep, 
I visited his bed. 
But found him slumbering deep, 
With darkened eyelids, and their lashes yet 
From his late sobbing wet. 
And I, with moan. 

Kissing away his tears, left others of my own; 
For, on a table drawn beside his head, 
He had put, within his reach, 
A box of counters and a red-vein'd stone, 
A piece of glass abraded by the beach 
And six or seven shells, 
A bottle with bluebells 

And two French copper coins, ranged there with careful art, 
To comfort his sad heart. 
So when that night I pray*d 
To God, I wept, and said: 
Ah, when at last we lie with tranced breath, 
Not vexing Thee in death. 
And Thou rememberest of what toys 
We made our joys. 
How weakly understood 
Thy great commanded good, 



COVENTRY PATMORE 247 

Then, fatherly not less 

Than I whom Thou hast moulded from the clay, 

Thou'lt leave Thy wrath, and say, 

"I will be sorry for their childishness." 



To THE Body 

Creation's and Creator's crowning good; 
Wall of infinitude; 
Foundation of the sky. 
In Heaven forecast 
And long'd for from eternity, 
Though laid the last; 
Reverberating dome, 
Of music cunningly built home 
Against the void and indolent disgrace 
Of unresponsive space; 
Little, sequestered pleasure-house 
For Grod and for His Spouse; 
Elaborately, yea, past conceiving, fair. 
Since, from the graced decorum of the hair, 
Ev'n to the tingling, sweet 
Soles of the simple, earth-confiding feet. 
And from the inmost heart 
Outwards unto the thin 
Silk curtains of the skin, 
Every least part 
Astonished hears 

And sweet replies to some like region of the spheres; 
Form'd for a dignity prophets but darkly name, 
Lest shameless men cry "Shame!" 
So rich with wealth concealed 
That Heaven and Hell fight chiefly for this field; 
Clinging to everything that pleases thee 
With indefectible fidelity; 
Alas, so true 

To all thy friendships that no grace 
Thee from thy sin can wholly disembracc; 
Which thus 'bides with thee as the Jebusite, 
That, maugre all God's promises could do. 



248 THE ENGLISH POETS 

The chosen People never conquered quite; 

Who therefore lived with them, 

And that by formal truce and as of right, 

In metropolitan Jerusalem. 

For which false fealty 

Thou needs must, for a season, lie 

In the grave's arms, foul and unshriven. 

Albeit, in Heaven, 

Thy crimson-throbbing Glow 

Into its old abode aye pants to go, 

And does with envy see 

Enoch, Elijah, and the Lady, she 

Who left the roses in her body's lieu. 

O, if the pleasures I have known in thee 

But my poor faith's poor first-fruits be, 

What quintessential, keen, ethereal bliss 

Then shall be his 

Who has thy birth-time's consecrating dew 

For death's sweet chrism retain'd, 

Quick, tender, virginal, and unprofaned! 



EDWARD FITZGERALD 

[BosN near Woodbridge, Sufifolk, March 31, 1809; educated at Bury 
St. Edmunds School and at Trinity College, Cambridge. Married the 
daughter of his neighbour Bernard Barton, the Quaker poet. Published 
in 185 1 Euphranor, a Dialogue on Youth, in 1852 Polonius, and in the 
following year Six Dramas of Calderon, fredy translated. His translations 
from Aeschylus and Sophocles appeared anon3nnously a good deal later, 
but in 1859 he published The Rubdiydt of Omar Khayydm, which, neglected 
at first, gradually secured a firm position, largely through the influence of 
Rossetti and some other men of letters who were greatly struck by the 
beauty and melody of the verse. Fitzgerald died in 1883. Several vol- 
umes of his letters were afterwards published by Mr. Aldis Wright, and a 
pleasant picture of him is preserved in Mr. F. H. Groome*s Tivo Suffolk 
Friends.] 

Edward Fitzgerald claims to be remembered on two special 
grounds. He was a man of many warm, even intense friendships, 
of which the record remains in more than one volume of deb'ghtiul 
letters; and he was a translator whose renderings from other lan- 
guages bad in a marked degree many of the qualities of original 
poetry. He lived from 1809 to 1883, and among his intimate 
friends he counted many of the foremost men of letters of his time, 
Alfred and Frederic Tennjrson, James Spedding the editor of 
Bacon, Thomas Carlyle,'and W. M. Thackeray being the most 
prominent names among them. With these he corresponded 
freely, but he wrote as liberally to many others, such as Bernard 
Barton the Quaker poet, W. F. Pollock, W. H. Thompson, for many 
years Master of Trinity, E. B. Cowell the Oriental scholar, Aldis 
Wright the Shakespearian (who afterwards edited Fitzgerald's 
works), and, after 1870, the eminent Americans, J. R. Lowell and 
Charles Eliot Norton. The charm of his letters lies in the frank and 
natural view which they give of a many-sided life. Fitzgerald was 
far from being only a literary man. He lived for the most part in a 
remote part of Suffolk, chiefly in a cottage, though he was a con- 
siderable landowner; but during many years he spent most of the 
sununer on board a little pleasure yacht, in which he would sail 
down to the English Channel, often venturing as far as Cornwall; 



250 THE ENGLISH POETS 

and at home he read with avidity, bought books, and collected old 
pictures, sometimes Venetian and more often English, especially 
those of the Norwich school. On whatever books he read, he 
quickly formed an opinion, which he would express with a shrewd 
incisiveness that one cannot help admiring, however one may dis- 
agree. Greatly as he valued Tennyson, he could write (in 1842) 
"Why reprint The Merman, The Mermaid, and those everlasting 
Eleanores, Isabels, which always were and are and must be a 
nuisance? " Three years later, a propos of In Memoriam (as yet 
unpublished) he asks his friend W. B. Donne "Don't you think the 
world wants other notes than elegiac now? " After sharp criticism 
like this, it is not surprising to find him, thirty years later, seeing 
little merit in The Lover* s Tale, Queen Mary, and such like; and yet 
his real opinion comes out in such passages as that in which, con- 
trasting Tennyson with Browning (whom he never liked or appre- 
ciated), he declares that "Alfred has stocked the English language 
with lines which once knowing one cannot forego." Dickens he 
adored, and at seventy years of age he cries "I bless and rejoice in 
Dickens more and more," while of his old and intimate friend 
Thackeray he speaks in varying tones, now praising, and now not 
fearing to agree with those who thought Pendennis dull. Late in 
life he came to doubt the merits of George Borrow; he agreed with a 
friend who declared that Miss Bronte was "a great Mistress of the 
Disagreeable;" and he confessed that he had tried, and failed, to 
read The Life afid Death of Jason. All through, his own special 
favourite among the English poets of what were then more or less 
recent years was George Crabbe, for whom he confessed to a 
"monomania" of admiration. It was certainly something of a 
paradox that he should assign so high a rank to this chronicler of 
quiet English life; for at the very same time he was zealously 
translating not only the Spanish dramatist Calderon but the 
Agamemnon of Aeschylus and the two greatest of the plays of 
Sophocles. 

Fitzgerald's lack of literary ambition was for many years a mat- 
ter of conmion talk among his friends; in point of fact he was nearly 
fifty before he began the work which has made him famous, and he 
was over seventy when the two Oedipus plays saw the light. It 
need hardly be said that by the work which made him famous we 
mean the Ruhdiydt of Omar Khayyam, the Astronomer-Poet of 
Persia — ?l twelfth-century bard who until Fitzgerald took him in 
hand had been almost forgotten by scholars, but who is now prob- 



EDWARD FITZGERALD 251 

ably more widely known in the Western world than any other poet 
of Asia. Let us not forget that the man who taught Fitzgerald the 
Persian language and who led him to study Omar was his friend 
E. B. Cowell, who read with him at home, corresponded with him 
from India, and as Professor of Sanskrit at Cambridge kept his 
interest in Eastern literature alive until the end. The difficulties in 
the way of the translation were very great; there was at that time 
no printed version of the original poem, and the MSS. were incon- 
sistent, imperfect, and often corrupt. This is the main reason for 
the curious discrepancies between Fitzgerald's first edition (1859) 
and those which followed, discrepancies so marked that Mr. Aldis 
Wright, in his Collected Writings of Fitzgerald, thought it desir- 
able to print the two versions (ed. i and ed. 4) in exlenso. 

The passages — Rubiiy&t or Quatrains — quoted below are from 
the definitive edition; to print from an earlier version would have 
been to do violence to one of Fitzgerald's most positive rules, that a 
poet's final edition is the best edition. The question whether the 
English Quartrains fairly represent the original has often been dis- 
cussed, and Fitzgerald himself never claimed that they were in any 
way an exact rendering. Writing to Cowell, of the first version in 
1858, he spoke of it as "very unliteral;" and Aldis Wright in an 
editorial note (1889) admits that "Fitzgerald took great liberties 
with the original in his version of Omar Kh&yykai." That was his 
way; anybody can see it in his Oedipus and Agamemnon. The safe- 
guard to those who, like the present writer, are ignorant of Persian 
is that Professor Cowell was at hand all the time, and we may be 
sure that in all essentials he kept the translator fairly to his task. 
" Many Quartrains are mashed together," wrote Fitzgerald; but the 
result, say the scholars, is that Omar's doctrine and Omar's lan- 
guage are substantially reproduced. What that doctrine isj the 
reader will easily gather from the verses themselves. The poet, 
says his translator, "is a lighter Shadow among the Shades over 
which Lucretius presides so grimly." He is a philosopher who has 
convinced himself that Man can imravel many a knot "but not the 
master knot of Human Fate; " that only one thing is certain, which 
is Death; that therefore Man's business is to live for the day — "To 
take the Cash and let the Credit go," to enjoy the beauty of the 
world and the pleasures of life while they are attainable. A vast 
amount of discussion has been carried on among scholars as to what 
Omar meant by the Graj)e and the Wine-Cup. Did he mean sensual 
delight, or are these names to disguise the Ideal, the Divine, such 



252 THE ENGLISH POETS 

as the Sufi believes in? Fitzgerald himself would hardly answer, 
and where he hesitated we may be content to remain in doubt. Let 
us follow Omar's example and enjoy what he offers us — exquisite 
imagery and a haunting rhythm, to the religious mind "most 
melancholy,*' but to every ear "most musical." 

Thackeray, starting for America in 1852, wrote most affection- 
ately to his "dearest old friend " begging him to be literary executor 
should anything untoward happen on his travels. ' * The great com- 
fort I have in thinking about my dear old boy is the recollection of 
our youth when we loved each other as I do even when I write 
Farewell." 

And TennjTson, it will be remembered, dedicated Tiresias to "Old 
Fitz " in words just as full of affection ; and when the old friend died 
suddenly and tranquilly before the poem was published, wrote 
lines of tender benediction, 

"Praying that, when I from hence 

Shall fade with him into the unknown, 
My close of earth's experience 
May prove as peaceful as his own!" 

Editor. 

From the "RubAiyAt" 

vn 

Come, fill the Cup, and in the fire of Spring 
Your Winter-garment of Repentance fling: 

The Bird of Time has but a little way 
To flutter — ^and the Bird is on the Wing. 

vin 

Whether at Naishdpur or Babylon, 
Whether the Cup with sweet or bitter run, . 

The Wine of Life keeps oozing drop by drop, 
The Leaves of Life keep falling one by one. 

IX 

Each Mom a thousand Roses brings, you say; 
Yes, but where leaves the Rose of Yesterday? 

And this first Summer month that brings the Rose 
Shall take Jamshyd and Kaikobid away. 



EDWARD FITZGERALD 253 



Well, let it take them! What have we to do 
With Kaikobid the Great, or Kaikhosru? 

Let Z41 and Rustum bluster as they will. 
Or H&tim call to Supper — heed not you. 

XI 

With me along the strip of Herbage strown 
That just divides the desert from the sown, 

Where name of Slave and Sultin is forgot — 
And Peace to Mahmud on his golden Throne! 

xn 

A Book of Verses imdemeath the Bough, 
A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread — and Thou 

Beside me singing in the Wilderness — 
Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow! 

xm 

Some for the Glories of This World; and some 
Sigh for the Prophet^s Paradise to come; 

Ah, take the Cash, and let the Credit go. 
Nor heed the rumble of a distant Drum! 

XIV 

Look to the blowing Rose about us — "Lo, 
Laughing," she says, "into the world I blow. 

At once the silken tassel of my Purse 
Tear, and its Treasure on the Garden throw." 

XV 

And those who husbanded the Golden grain, 
And those who flimg it to the winds like Rain, 

Alike to no such aureate Earth are turn'd 
As, buried once. Men want dug up again. 

XVI 

The Worldly Hope men set their Hearts upon 
Turns Ashes — or it prospers; and anon. 

Like Snow upon the Desert^s dusty Face, 
Lighting a little hour or two — ^is gone. 



254 THE ENGLISH POETS 

XVII 

Think, in this battered Caravanserai 
Whose Portals are alternate Night and Day, 

How Sultin after Sult&n with his Pomp 
Abode his destined Hour, and went his way. 

xvin 

They say the Lion and the Lizard keep 

The Courts where Jamshyd gloried and drank deep: 

And Bahrim, that great Hunter — the Wild Ass 
Stamps o'er his Head, but cannot break his Sleep. 

XIX 

I sometimes think that never blows so red 
The Rose as where some buried Caesar bled; 

That every Hyacinth the Garden wears 
Dropt in her Lap from some once lovely Head. 

XX 

And this reviving Herb whose tender Green 
Fledges the River-Lip on which we lean — 
Ah, lean upon it lightly! for who knows 
From what once lovely Lip it springs unseen I 

XXI 

Ah, my Beloved, fill the Cup that clears 
To-DAY of past Regret and Future Fears: 

To-morrow! — ^Why, To-morrow I may be 
Myself with Yesterday's Sev'n thousand Years. 

xxn 

For some we loved, the loveliest and the best 
That from his Vintage rolling Time hath prest, 

Have drunk their Cup a Round or two before, 
And one by one crept silently to rest. 

xxm 

And we, that now make merry in the Room 
They left, and Siunmer dresses in new bloom. 

Ourselves must we beneath the Couch of Earth 
Descend — ourselves to make a Couch — ^for whom? 



EDWARD FITZGERALD 255 

XXIV 

Ah, make the most of what we yet may spend, 
Before we too into the Dust descend; 

Dust into Dust, and under Dust to lie, 
Sans Wine, sans Song, sans Singer, and— sans End ! 
***** 

xxvn 
Myself when yoimg did eagerly frequent 
Doctor and Saint, and heard great argument 

About it and about: but evermore 
Came out by the same door where in I went. 

xxvm 
With them the seed of Wisdom did I sow, 
And with mine own hand wrought to make it grow; 

And this was all the Harvest that I reaped — 
"I came like Water, and like Wind I go." 

XXIX 

Into this Universe, and Why not knowing 
Nor W hence y like Water willy-nilly flowing; 
And out of it, as Wind along the Waste, 
I know not Whither, willy-nilly blowing. 
***** 

Lxvm 
We are no other than a moving row 
Of Magic Shadow-shapes that come and go 

Round with the Sun-illumined Lantern held 
In Midnight by the Master of the Show; 

LXIX 

But helpless Pieces of the Game He plays 
Upon this Chequer-board of Nights and Days; 

Hither and thither moves, and checks, and slays. 
And one by one back in the Closet lays. 

LXX 

The Ball no question makes of Ayes and Noes, 
But Here or There as strikes the Player goes; 

And He that toss'd you down into the Field, 
He knows about it all — he knows — ^HE knows! 



256 THE ENGLISH POETS 

LXXI 

The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ, 
Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit 

Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line, 
Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it. 



LXXXI 

Oh, Thou, who Man of baser Earth didst make. 
And ev'n with Paradise devise the Snake: 

For all the Sin wherewith the Face of Man 
Is blacken'd — Man's Forgiveness give — and take! 



xcvi 

Yet Ah, that Spring should vanish with the Rose! 
That Youth's sweet-scented manuscript should 
close! 
The Nightingale that in the branches sang, 
Ah whence, and whither flown again, who knows! 

xcvii 

Would but the Desert of the Fountain yield 
One glimpse — ^if dimly, yet indeed, reveal'd. 

To which the fainting Traveller might spring. 
As springs the trampled herbage of the field! 

xcvm 

Would but some winged Angel ere too late 
Arrest the yet unfolded Roll of Fate, 

And make the stern Recorder otherwise 
Enregister, or quite obliterate! 

xax 

Ah Love! could you and I with Him conspire 
To grasp this sorry Scheme of Things entire, 
Would not we shatter it to bits — and then 
Re-mould it nearer to the Heart's Desire! 



WILLIAM JOHNSON (CORY) 

[The son of William Johnson, of Torrington, Devon, where he was 
bom, 1823. His mother was a great-niece of Sir Joshua Reynolds. Edu- 
cated at Eton (Newcastle Scholar, 1841) and afterwards at King's Col- 
lie, Cambridge, gaining a Fellowship in 1845. Craven Scholar and 
Chancellor's Prize for an English poem 1843-4. Master at Eton, 1845-72. 
Inherited an estate at Halsdon, and took the name of Cory, 1872. Lived 
at Madeira, 1878-82; there married Miss Guille; returned, and lived at 
Hampstead, where he died in 1892. His small collection of poems, called 
lonica, was first published 1858.] 

William Johnson, who took the name of Cory in his fiftieth year, 
is still remembered by many friends and pupils for his brilliant 
qualities as a teacher and for his lovable temperament. He will 
be remembered by the lovers of literature for three books, the little 
collection of poems called lonica (1858), the very original Guide to 
English History (1882), and the Extracts from the Letters and 
Journals of William Cory, collected by his friend F. Warre Cornish 
and published five years after the writer's death. Of this last, the 
late Richard Gamett said "It would not be easy to find a more 
charming volmne of its class;" and certainly none contains more 
pleasant self-portraiture or cleverer sketches, at once shrewd and 
sympathetic, of the boys and young men with whom the writer, as 
an Eton master, was brought into close relations. The sentences 
describing young Lord Dalmeny — the Lord Rosebery of a later day 
— ^have been often quoted. But while the Letters show Johnson as 
the friendly critic and guide, lonica reveals him as feeling for one 
or more of his pupils a warmer interest; warmer, indeed, than is 
commonly either felt or expressed by a modem teacher. Many 
would regard it as not quite healthy — they feel the same of Shake- 
speare's Sonnets; but there can be no doubt that under the im- 
pulse of this sentiment Johnson wrote poetry of a high order. 
There are few poems of fifty years ago that so linger in the memory; 
greater there are in plenty, but not many that still have such a hold 
upon those who read them in their youth as A Study of Boyhood, 
Deteriora, and Parting, 



258 THE ENGLISH POETS 

We print these, and, to show that Johnson's admiration for boy- 
hood was larger than any personal affection, the fine poem called 
A Queen's Visit, which tells how a word and a smile from the Head 
of the State were enough to arouse the heroism latent in boy-nature. 
Another poem, Amaturus, is given to show how Johnson could 
understand and express the perfectly normal feeling of a man for a 
maid. The verses are charming; they have music, and they have 
that simple directness of expression which is eschewed by many 
modems, anxious to leave the complexity of modem life even more 
complex than they find it. It may discredit Johnson with some of 
the votaries of these recondite writers to find him saying, so late as 
1883, "Tennyson is the sum and product of the art which begins 
with Homer ... He fills my soul, and makes the best part of the 
forty years of manhood that I have gone through." Certainly 
Johnson was a Tennysonian, but he was not an imitator of any 
contemporary. He was steeped in Greek and Latin literature. 
The lines that are given below ("Guide me with song") are his 
translation of his own Greek verses; and of the Latin poems printed 
in his Lucrelilis the great scholar Munro wrote, "In my humble 
judgment they are the best and most Horatian Sapphics and 
Alcaics which I am acquainted with that have been written since 
Horace ceased to write." ^ 

Editor. 

* Cory, Letters and Journals, p. 567. 



WILLIAM JOHNSON (CORY) 259 



[From lonica] 
MiMNESMus IN Church 

You promise heavens free from strife, 
Pure truth, and perfect change of will; 

But sweet, sweet is this human life, 
So sweet, I fain would breathe it still; 

Your chilly stars I can forgo, 

This warm kind world is all I know. 

You say there is no substance here, 

One great reality above: 
Back from that void I shrink in fear. 

And child-like hide myself in love: 
Show me what angels feel. Till then, 
I cling, a mere weak man, to men. 

You bid me lift my mean desires 
From faltering lips and fitful veins 

To sexless souls, ideal quires. 
Unwearied voices, wordless strains: 

My mind with fonder welcome owns 

One dear dead friend^s remembered tones. 

Forsooth the present we must give 
To that which cannot pass away; 

All beauteous things for which we live 
By laws of time and space decay; 

But oh, the very reason why 

I clasp them, is because they die. 



Amaturus 

Somewhere beneath the sun, 

These quivering heart-strings prove it. 
Somewhere there must be one 

Made for this soul, to move it; 



26o THE ENGLISH POETS 

Some one that hides her sweetness 

From neighbours whom she slights, 
Nor can attain completeness, 

Nor give her heart its rights; 
Some one whom I could court 

With no great change of manner, 
Still holding reason's fort. 

Though waving fancy's banner; 
A lady, not so queenly 

As to disdain my hand. 
Yet bom to smile serenely 

Like those that rule the land; 
Noble, but not too proud; 

Witji soft hair simply folded, 
And bright face crescent-browed, 

And throat by Muses moulded; 
And eyelids lightly falling 

On little glistening seas, 
Deep-calm, when gales are brawling. 

Though stirred by every breeze: 
Swift voice, like flight of dove 

Through minster arches floating, 
With sudden turns, when love 

Gets ovemear to doting; 
Keen lips, that shape soft sayings 

Like crystals of the snow, 
With pretty half-betra3dngs 

Of things one may not know; 
Fair hand, those touches thrill, 

Like golden rod of wonder. 
Which Hermes wields at will 

Spirit and flesh to sunder; 
Light foot, to press the stirrup 

In fearlessness and glee. 
Or dance, till finches chirrup, 

And stars sink to the sea* 

Forth, Love, and find this maid, 
Wherever she be hidden: 

Speak, Love, be not afraid. 
But plead as thou art bidden; 



WILLIAM JOHNSON (CORY) 261 

And say, that he who taught thee 

His yearning want and pain, 
Too dearly, dearly bought thee 

To part with thee in vain. 



A Queen's Visit. (1851) 

From vale to vale, from shore to shore. 

The lady Gloriana passed, 
To view her realms: the south wind bore 

Her shallop to Belleisle at last. 

A quiet mead, where willows bend 
Above the curving wave, which rolls 

On slowly crumbling banks, to send 
Its hard-won spoils to lazy shoals. 

Beneath an oak weird eddies play, 
Where fate was writ for Saxon seer; 

And yonder park is white with may, 
Where shadowy hunters chased the deer. 

In rows, half up the chestnut, perch 

Stiff-silvered fairies; busy rooks 
Caw from the elm; and, rung to church. 

Mute anglers drop their caddised hooks. 

They troop between the dark-red walls, 
When the twin towers give four-fold chimes; 

And lo! the breaking groups, where falls 
The chequered shade of quivering limes. 

They come from field and wharf and street 
With dewy hair and veined throat. 

One floor to tread with reverent feet, — 
One hour of rest for ball and boat: 

Like swallows gathering for their flight, 
When autumn whispers, play no more, 

They check the laugh, with fancies bright 
Still hovering round the sacred door. 



262 THE ENGLISH POETS 

Lo! childhood swelling into seed, 
Lo! manhood bursting from the bud: 

Two growths, unlike; yet all agreed 
To trust the movement of the blood. 

They toil at games, and play with books: 
They love the winner of the race, 

If only he that prospers looks 
On prizes with a simple grace. 

The many leave the few to choose; 

They scorn not him who turns aside 
To woo alone a milder Muse, 

If shielded by a tranquil pride. 

When thought is claimed, when pain is borne, 
Whatever is done in this sweet isle. 

There 's none that may not lift his horn, 
If only lifted with a smile. 

So here dwells freedom; nor could she. 
Who ruled in every clime on earth, 

Find any spring more fit to be 
The fountain of her festal mirth. 

Elsewhere she sought for lore and art, 
But hither came for vernal joy: 

Nor was this all: she smote the heart 
And woke the hero in the boy. 



A Study of Boyhood 

So young, and yet so worn with pain! 
No sign of youth upon that stooping head, 
Save weak half-curls, like beechen boughs that spread 

With up-turned edge to catch the hurrying rain ; 

Such little lint-white locks, as wound 
About a mother^s finger long ago, 
When he was blither, not more dear, for woe 

Was then far off, and other sons stood round. 



WILLIAM JOHNSON (CORY) 263 

And she has wept since then with him 
Watching together, where the ocean gave 
To her child^s counted breathings wave for wave, 

Whilst the heart fluttered, and the eye grew dim. 

And when the sun and day-breeze fell, 
She kept with him the vigil of despair; 
Knit hands for comfort, blended sounds of prayer, 

Saw him at dawn face death, and take farewell; 

Saw him grow hoKer through his grief. 
The early grief that lined his withering brow. 
As one by one her stars were quenched. And now 

He that so mourned can play, though life is brief; 

Not gay, but gracious; plain of speech, 
And freely kindling under beauty's ray. 
He dares to speak of what he loves: to-day 

He talked of art, and led me on to teach, 

And glanced, as poets glance, at pages 
Full of bright Florence and warm Umbrian skies; 
Not slighting modem greatness, for the wise 

Can sort the treasures of the circling ages; 

Not echoing the sickly praise. 
Which bo)rs repeat, who hear a father's guest 
Prate of the London show-rooms; what is best 

He firmly lights upon, as birds on sprays; 

All honest, and all delicate: 
No room for flattery, no smiles that ask 
For tender pleasantries, no looks that mask 

The genial impulses of love and hate. 

Oh bards that call to bank and glen, 
Ye bid me go to nature to be healed! 
And lo! a purer fount is here revealed: 

My lady-nature dwells in heart of men. 



264 THE ENGLISH POETS 



Deteriora 

One year I lived in high romance, 

A soul ennobled by the grace 
Of one whose very frowns enhance 

The regal lustre of the face, 
And in the magic of a smile 
I dwelt as in Calypso's isle. 

One year, a narrow line of blue. 

With clouds both ways awhile held back: 
And dull the vault that line goes through, 

And frequent now the crossing rack; 
And who shall pierce the upper sky, 
And count the spheres? Not I, not I! 

Sweet year, it was not hope you brought. 
Nor after toil and storm repose, 

But a fresh growth of tender thought. 
And all of love my spirit knows. 

You let my lifetime pause, and bade 

The noontide dial cast no shade. 

If fate and nature screen from me 
The sovran front I bowed before, 

And set the glorious creature free. 
Whom I would clasp, detain, adore; 

If I forego that strange delight, 

Must all be lost? Not quite, not quite. 

Die, little love, without complaint. 
Whom Honour standeth by to shrive: 

Assoiled from all selfish taint. 
Die, Love, whom Friendship will survive. 

Nor heat nor folly gave thee birth; 

And briefness does but raise thy worth. 

Let the grey hermit Friendship hoard 
Whatever sainted Love bequeathed, 



WILLIAM JOHNSON {CORY) 265 

And in some hidden scroll record 

The vows in pious moments breathed. 
Vex not the lost with idle suit, 
Oh lonely heart, be mute, be mute. 



Pabting 

As when a traveller, forced to journey back. 
Takes coin by coin, and gravely counts them o^er, 

Grudging each payment, fearing lest he lack. 
Before he can regain the friendly shore; 

So reckoned I your sojourn, day by day. 

So grudged I every week that dropt away. 

And as a prisoner, doomed and bound, upstarts 
From shattered dreams of wedlock and repose, 

At sudden rumblings of the market-carts. 
Which bring to town the strawberry and the rose. 

And wakes to meet sure death; so shuddered I, 

To hear you meditate your gay Good-bye. 

But why not gay? For, if there's aught you lose, 
It is but drawing off a wrinkled glove 

To turn the keys of treasuries, free to choose 
Throughout the hundred-chambered house of love. 

This pathos draws from you, though true and kind, 

Only bland pity for the left-behind. 

We part; you comfort one bereaved, unmanned; 

You calmly chide the silence and the grief; 
You touch me once with light and courteous hand. 

And with a sense of something like relief 
You turn away from what may seem to be 
Too hard a trial of your charity. 

So closes in the life of life; so ends 
The soaring of the spirit. What remains? 

To take whatever the Muse's mother lends. 
One sweet sad thought in many soft refrains 

And half reveal in Coan gauze of rhyme 

A cherished image of your joyous prime. 



266 THE ENGLISH POETS 



To THE Muse 

Guide me with song, kind Muse, to death's dark shade; 
Keep me in sweet accord with boy and maid, 
Still in fresh blooms of art and truth arrayed. 

Bear with old age, blithe child of memory! 

Time loves the good; and youth and thou art nigh 

To Sophocles and Plato, till they die. 

' Playmate of freedom, queen of nightingales, 
Draw near; thy voice grows faint: my spirit fails 
Still with thee, whether sleep or deatii assails. 



RICHARD WATSON DIXON 

[R. W. Dixon was bom May 5, 1833, and died in January, 1900. He 
was a schoolfellow of Edward Burae-Jones at King Edward's School, 
Birmingham, and carried on the friendship at Oxford, where, with Wil- 
liam Morris and others of the set, he founded the Oxford and Cambridge 
Magazine, His first volume, Christ* s Compdny and other Poems, appeared 
in 1861; a second, Historical Odes and other Poems , followed in 1864; in 
the previous year he had won the Oxford prize for a sacred poem, the 
subject being St. John in Patmos. He took Orders in 1858, and after 
serving for a few years as second master of Carlisle High School, became 
a Minor Canon of the Cathedral. In 1875 he was presented to the vicar- 
age of HsLytoUf and in 1883 to that of Warkworth, both in the same dio- 
cese. The first volume of his History of the Church of England from the 
abolition of the Roman Jurisdiction appeared in 1877, the fifth and last 
after his death. The rest of his poetical work was published in the follow- 
ing order: Mano, 1883; Odes and Eclogues, 1884; Lyrical Poems, 1887; 
The Story of Eudocia and her Brothers, 1888; Last Poems (a posthumous 
volume), 1905. In 1895 a selection of his later poems was published 
under the title of Songs and Odes; and in 1909 a larger selection with a 
memoir by Robert Bridges, and present Poet Laureate.] 

In most literary coteries which become famous there are mem- 
bers who, while respected for their talents within the circle, escape 
public recognition because they pursue the common ideal with a 
divided will. R. W. Dixon undoubtedly occupied a prominent 
place in that brotherhood of Oxford undergraduates in the fifties 
of last century, which included Bume- Jones and William Morris 
and, as an outside member, Gabriel Rossetti. But while still at 
Oxford he had discovered a taste for historical studies, winning 
the Arnold prize for an essay on The Close of the Tenth Century of 
the Christian Era, and on leaving the University and taking orders 
he began, in the leisured post of a Cathedral minor canonry, to 
write that picturesque chronicle history of the English Reformation 
by which he is best known. Later church preferments were aU of 
the kind which added to his professional labours, and as his Histoty 
retained for the rest of his life the first claim upon his leisure, 
poetry was well-nigh crowded out. This is not a thing of which 



268 THE ENGLISH POETS 

any one can reasonably complain. The History is at least an ac- 
complished fact, and its merits as literature are acknowledged; 
while there is no evidence that Dixon saw his way at aU clearly in 
poetry. He was experimenting to the last, and none of his experi- 
ments held out much prospect of a great success. But it is worth 
pointing out how little time Dixon could give to poetry, because 
poetry was not with him, as it was with his friend Morris, very 
much a matter of improvisation; it was an art calling for long study 
and assiduous practice; and his first book shows that he had many 
of the qualities which might in other circiunstances have led to a 
greater measure of success. 

His first book, Chrisfs Company , published in 1861, three years 
after Morris's Defence of Guenevere, had even less chance of attract- 
ing popular attention. The Defence of Gueneverey though it might 
surprise by occasional quaintness and offend by the absence of 
Tennysonian polish, contained stories of human passion which are 
at any rate intelligible, and, as we know, it made on many sym- 
pathetic minds an ineffaceable impression. Dixon's poems were 
at the opposite pole to these straightforward tales in easy verse. 
The first impression they gave was of queemess. The vocabulary 
was queer, there were words like agraffes^ stroom, graith, which are 
not known to the dictionary, and lines like "the flax was boiled 
upon my crine;" the rhymes were queer and assertive, "only, 
conely;" "writhing, high thing;" often the syntax was queer. 
"Who," asks St. Peter, "shall ban my sorrow?" and this is the 
answer he gives: 

"Not earth that drinks my tears; not heavenly sky; 
Not they who took with me the bread and wine; 
Perhaps not God who looks on me, 
The Father thinking of the tree 
Of cursing in me rooted, see 
The flinders; not the victim, He, 
My sorrow!" 

But no less evident to an attentive reader is the fact that in each 
poem the writer has something to say which he is earnest about 
saying, and that he is saying it as well as he can, with his eye upon 
some ideal beauty which he is endeavouring to reproduce. What 
is unfortunate is that through want of skill the artist's hand does 
not always answer to his imagination, and thus the reader is sorely 
puzzled to make out the meaning. SL Mary Magdalene is perhaps 



RICHARD WATSON DIXON 269 

the most successful of these early poems. It has the accent of 
Rossetti, and could never have been written without his influence. 
But it has a beauty of its own; and if it had been furnished with 
an argument, so that the ordinary reader could have mastered the 
general meaning, it might have become as popular in the Butter- 
field period of Churchmanship as many of Miss Rossetti's pic- 
turesque poems. The St. John contains a fine series of pictures of 
"the seven archangels with his army each," done in the same Pre- 
Raphaelite manner. And many of the descriptions of natural 
scenery with which the book aboimds are in the same style of care- 
ful detail. 

"Here T lie along the trunk 

That swings the heavy sluice-door sunk 

In the water, which outstreams 

In little runlets from its seams." 

But occasionally we have passages of description of quite a different 
character, addressed not to the memory but to the imagination. 
This is how the Bride of Christ is seen in St. John's vision: — 

"Her form was beautiful and wondrous tall, 
Her eyes were like half-moons in cloudy smoke, 

Her height was as a pillar in a wall. 
Her hair was as a flowery banner free. 
Her glory like a fountain in the rocks. 
Her graciousness like vines to tender flocks, 

Her eyes like lilies shaken by the bees, 
Her hair a net of moonbeams in a cloud. 

Her thinness like a row of youngling trees 
And golden bees hummed round her in a crowd." 

Dixon's second volume followed the first after a three years' 
interval, and while containing a few poems in the early manner, was 
chiefly interesting for its new experiments. It bore the name 
Historical Odes from the poems upon Wellington and Marl- 
borough with which it opened: poems which it is to be feared there 
have been few to praise, and very few to love. The historical 
interest is rightly subordinated to that of character, but the senti- 
ments, though excellent, do not succeed in finding for themselves a 
memorable expression. But there were experiments also in other 
directions. There are tales of classical mythology and there are 
romantic tales, both of which modes of writing retained their at- 



270 THE ENGLISH POETS 

traction for the poet to the last. There are also various odes upon 
such subjects as Sympathy, Rapture, and Departing Youth. Finally, 
there was one song, The Feathers of the Willow, of which it was 
said by a fine critic that it would be difficult to find anywhere " two 
stanzas so crowded with the pathos of nature and landscape." 

Dixon published no more poetry for twenty years. In 1878 the 
late Father Hopkins, S. J., who admired the early volumes, intro- 
duced himself to him and then made him known to Mr. Robert 
Bridges, and the stimulus of this poetic sympathy provoked an 
aftermath in a series of fine odes, dealing chiefly with the thoughts 
and experiences of age, which remain Dixon's most original and 
effective contribution to poetry. 

H. C. B££CHING. 

Song 

The feathers of the willow 
Are half of them grown yellow 

Above the swelling stream; 
And ragged are the bushes. 
And rusty now the rushes. 

And wild the clouded gleam. 

The thistle now is older, 
His stalk begins to moulder, 

His head is white as snow; 
The branches all are barer, 
The linnet's song is rarer, 

The robin pipeth now. 



The Fall of the Leaf 

Rise in their place the woods: the trees have cast, i 

Like earth to earth, their children: now they stand 

Above the graves where lie their very last: 

Each pointing with her empty hand 

And mourning o*er the russet floor, 

Naked and dispossessed; 

The queenly sycamore. 

The linden, and the aspen, and the rest. 



RICHARD WATSON DIXON 271 

But thou, fair birch, doubtful to laugh or weep, 

Who timorously dost keep 

From the sad fallen ring thy face away; 

Wouldst thou look to the heavens which wander grey, 

The unstilled clouds, slow mounting on their way? 

They not regard thee, neither do they send 

One breath to wake thy sighs, nor gently tend 

Thy sorrow or thy smile to passion's end. 

Lo, there on high the unlighted moon is hung, 

A cloud among the clouds: she giveth pledge, 

Which none from hope debars. 

Of hours that shall the naked boughs re-fledge 

In seasons high: her drifted train among 

Musing she leads the silent song, 

Grave mistress of white clouds, as lucid queen of stars. 



Ode on Conflicting Claims 

Hast thou no right to joy, 

Oh youth grown old, who palest with the thought 

Of the measureless annoy. 

The pain and havoc wrought 

By Fate on man: and of the many men. 

The imfed, the untaught. 

Who groan beneath that adamantine chain 

Whose tightness kills, whose slackness whips the flow 

Of waves of futile woe: 

Hast thou no right to joy? 

Thou thinkest in thy mind 

In thee it were unkind 

To revel in the liquid Hyblian store. 

While more and more the horror and the shame. 

The pity and the woe grow more and more, 

Persistent still to claim 

The filling of thy mind. 

Thou thinkest that if none in all the rout 
Who compass thee about 



272 THE ENGLISH POETS 

Turn full their soul to that which thou desirest. 

Nor seek to gain thy goal, 

Beauty, the heart of beauty, 

The sweetness, yea, the thoughtful sweetness, 

The one right way in each, the best, 

Which satisfies the soul. 

The firmness lost in softness, the touch of typical meetness. 

Which lets the soul have rest; 

Those things to which thyself aspirest:— 

That they, though bom to quaff the bowl divine, 

As thou art, yield to the strict law of duty; 

And thou from them must thine example take, 

Leave the amaranthine vine. 

And the prized joy forsake. 

Oh thou, forgone in this, 

Long struggling with a world that is amiss. 

Reach some old volume down. 

Some poet's book, which in thy bygone years, 

Thou hast consumed with joys as keen as fears, 

When o*er it thou wouldst hang with rapturous frown. 

Admiring with sweet envy all 

The exquisite of words, the lance-like fall 

Of mighty verses, each on each, 

The sweetness which did never cloy, 

(So wrought of thought ere touched with speech). 

And ask again, Hast thou no right to joy? 

Take the most precious tones that thunderstruck thine ears 

In gentler days gone by: 

And if they yield no more the old ecstasy. 

Then give thyself to tears. 



Ode: The Spirit Wooed 

Art thou gone so far, 

Beyond the poplar tops, beyond the sunset-bar, 
Beyond the purple cloud that swells on high 
In the tender fields of sky? 



RICHARD WATSON DIXON 273 

Leanest thou thy head 

On sunset's golden breadth? is thy wide hair spread 
To his solemn kisses? Yet grow thou not pale 
As he pales and dies: nor more my eyes avail 
To search his cloud-drawn bed. 



O come thou again! 

Be seen on the falling slope: let thy footsteps pass 

Where the river cuts with his blue scythe the grass: 

Be heard in the voice that across the river comes 

From the distant wood, even when the stilly rain 

Is made to cease by light winds: come again, 

As out of yon grey glooms, 

When the cloud grows luminous and shiftily riven, 

Forth comes the moon, the sweet surprise of heaven: 

And her footfall light 

Drops on the multiplied wave: her face is seen 

In evening's pallor green: 

And she waxes bright 

With the death of the tinted air: yea, brighter grows 

In sunset's gradual close. 

To earth from heaven comes she, 

So come thou to me. 

Oh, lay thou thy head 

On sunset's breadth of gold, thy hair bespread 
In his solemn kisses: but grow thou not pale 
As he pales and dies, lest eye no more avail 
To search thy cloud-drawn bed. 

Can the weeping eye 

Always feel light through mists that never dry! 

Can empty arms alone for ever fill 

Enough the breast? Can echo answer still, 

When the voice has ceased to cry? 



274 THE ENGLISH POETS 



Ode on Advancing Age 

Thou goest more and more 

To the silent things: thy hair is hoar, 

Emptier thy weary face: like to the shore 

Far-ruined, and the desolate billow white, 

That recedes and leaves it waif-wrinkled, gap-rocked, weak. 

The shore and the billow white 

Groan, they cry and rest not: they would speak, 

And call the eternal Night 

To cease them for ever, bidding new things issue 

From her cold tissue: 

Night, that is ever young, nor knows decay, 

Though older by eternity than they. 

Go down upon the shore. 

The breakers dash, the smitten spray drops to the roar; 

The spit upsprings, and drops again. 

Where'er the white waves clash in the main. 

Their sound is but one: 'tis the cry 

That has risen from of old to the sky, 

*Tis their silence! 

Go now from the shore 
Far-ruined: the grey shingly floor 
To thy crashing step answers, the doteril cries. 
And on dipping wing flies: 
'Tis their silence! 

And thou, oh thou, 
To that wild silence sinkest now. 
No more remains to thee than the cry of silence, the cry 
Of the waves, of the shore, of the bird to the sky. 
Thy bald eyes neath as bald a brow 
Ask but what Nature gives 
To the inarticulate cries 
Of the waves, of the shore, of the bird. 
Earth in earth thou art being interred: 
No longer in thee lives 
The lordly essence which was imlike all, 



RICHARD WATSON DIXON 275 

That was thy flower of soul the imperial 
Glory that separated thee 
From all others that might be. 

Thy dog hath died before. 

Didst thou not mark him? did he not neglect 

What roused his rapture once, but still loved thee? 

Till, weaker grown, was he not fain reject 

Thy pitying hand, thy meat and drink. 

For all thou couldst implore? 

Then, at the last, how mournfully 

Did not his eyelids sink 

With wearied sighs? 

He sought at last that never-moving night 

Which is the same in darkness as in light, 

The dosing of the eyes. 

So, Age, thou dealest us 

To the elements: but no! Resume thy pride, 

O man, that musest thus. 

Be to the end what thou hast been before: 

The ancient joy shall wrap thee still — the tide 

Return upon the shore. 



THOMAS GORDON HAKE 

[Born 1809, of an old Devonshire family on the father's side, his 
mother being a Gordon, aunt of Gordon of Khartoum. Educated at 
Lewes, at St. George's Hospital, and at Edinburgh and Glasgow Univer- 
sities, where he acquired remarkable medical and surgical knowledge. 
His very lively Memoirs of Eighty Years, published 1892, show that dur- 
ing the first half of his long life his mind was occupied with these studies; 
and, except for one or two youthful ventures in verse and prose — the 
drama called Piromides and the romance Vales — he gave himself up to 
science, not to poetry. In 1866, however, he privately printed The 
World's Epitaph J which led to an intimacy with D. G. Rossetti and his 
group of friends. His medical assistance made him for some years, as 
W. M. Rossetti said, "the earthly Providence of the Rossetti family." 
On the other hand, their influence helped forward his revived poetical 
instincts, and between 1872 and 1890 he wrote and published many 
volumes of verse, including Madeline (1871), Parables and Tales (1872), 
New Symbols (1876), and The Neroj Day (1890) ; and in 1894 Mrs. Meynell 
printed a volume of Selections from his works, with a preface. He died 
in January, 1895.] 

Thomas Gordon Hake was a man of many experiences, many 
accomplishments, and many moods. In manner he was "polished 
and urbane;" in aspect, according to his friend Theodore Watts- 
Dunton, to whom Hake dedicated his New Day, he was, "with 
the single exception of Lord Tennyson, the most poetical-looking 
poet" his friend had ever seen. Till past middle life he was a 
practising physician, the author of several learned books and 
papers, and a votary of Nature-study. But from eleven years 
old he had been a student of Shakespeare, and cne side of him, 
from boyhood onwards, was passionately devoted to poetry; so that 
when, at the age of nearly sixty, leisure, travels in Italy, and the 
beauty of some English woods in spring had made him take seri- 
ously to the writing of verse, none of his few intimate friends was 
surprised at the high standard that he reached at once. One 
reader, who was as yet a stranger to him, was so charmed that, 
immediately they were introduced, the two became close friends; 
and to this friendship Hake may be said to have owed a strong 



THOMAS GORDON HAKE 277 

poetic impulse, and the world the enjoyment of many rare and 
original poems. The new friend was D. G. Rossetti, and for several 
years after 1869 Hake lived in close touch with the Rossetti circle. 
As is stated above, his medical services were invaluable during 
Gabriel's worst days, in and about 1872, so that the poet-painter's 
brother rightly described him as "the Providence" of the family. 
Gabriel Rossetti went so far in his admiration as to review one of 
Hake's books in The Academy: a testimonial which of itself secured 
for the new poet the allegiance of all Rossettians. 

None the less, one clever artist and writer attached to that circle 
could not resist giving a rather malicious account of Hake's method 
of composition. This was W. B. Scott, who in his Autobiographical 
Notes (ii, p. 178) thus describes Hake at Kelmscott, whither in 1874 
he had taken Rossetti for a rest-cure. While young George Hake 
was attending to the patient, 

"his father, the doctor himself, was developing *the ideal' in solitude in 
the room below at about two lines a day. From the clearing away of 
breakfast there he sat by the fire, a pencil in one hand and a folded piece 
of paper in the other. On the table near him lay a little heap of other 
pieces of paper, his failures at the improvement of the same couplet in 
various transformations, sometimes expressing quite different meanings. 
The old gentleman in the character of a poet had interested all of us. 
He had retired from medicine determined to cultivate poetry. But he 
was really accomplishing his object by perseverance and determined 
study, utterly pooh-poohing the maxim that if a man has not made a good 
poem at twenty-five, he never will." 

The picture is overdone, but it helps to explain the elaboration 
which sometimes causes Hake's poems to be not easy to imderstand 
at a first reading. His prose Memoirs of Eighty Years (1892) 
contains some pages of poetical theory which also, from their 
very abstruseness, help to explain why the poems are difficult. But 
their music makes a universal appeal; their reading of Nature has 
the exactitude to be expected from a trained observer; they are, as 
Rossetti so often insisted, thoroughly original. The two longer ones 
here given are from the volume which his literary friends thought 
the best. New Symbols; two sonnets follow from The New Day, 
following his beloved Shakespeare in their form and dwelling 
in thought upon the good things that are to follow when a close 
study of Nature shall have driven away the clouds with which 
Ignorance darkens the spirit of man. Editor. 



278 THE ENGLISH POETS 

[From New Symbols (1876)] 
The Snake-charmer 



The forest rears on lifted arms 

A world of leaves, whence verdurous light 
Shakes through the shady depths and warms 

Proud tree and stealthy parasite, 
There where those cruel coils enclasp 
The tnmks they strangle in their grasp. 

n 

An old man creeps from out the woods, 
Breaking the vine's entangling spell; 

He thrids the jungle's solitudes 
O'er bamboos rotting where they fell; 

Slow down the tiger's path he wends 

Where at the pool the jungle ends. 

Ill 

No moss-greened alley tells the trace 
Of his lone step, no sound is stirred, 

Even when his tawny hands displace 
The boughs, that backward sweep imheard: 

His way as noiseless as the trail 

Of the swift snake and pilgrim snail. 



IV 

The old snake-charmer, — once he played 
Soft music for the serpent's ear, 

But now his cunning hand is stayed; 
He knows the hour of death is near. 

And all that live in brake and bough. 

All know the brand is on his brow. 



THOMAS GORDON HAKE ' 279 



Yet where his soul is he must go: 
He crawls along from tree to tree. 

The old snake-charmer, doth he know 
If snake or beast of prey he be? 

Bewildered at the pool he lies 

And sees as throu^ a seipent's eyes. 

VI 

Weeds wove with white-flowered lily crops 
Drink of the pool, and serpents hie 

To the thin brink as noonday drops, 
And in the froth-daubed rushes lie. 

There rests he now with fastened breath 

'Neath a kind sun to bask in death. 

vn 

The pool is bright with glossy dyes 
And cast-up bubbles of decay: 

A green death-leaven overlies 
Its mottled scum, where shadows play 

As the snake's hollow coil, fresh shed. 

Rolls in the wind across its bed. 

vin 

No more the wily note is heard 
From his full flute — the riving air 

That tames the snake, decoys the bird, 
Worries the she-wolf from her lair. 

Fain would he bid its parting breath 

Drown in his ears the voice of death. 

Still doth his soul's vague longing skim 
The pool beloved: he hears the hiss 

That siffles at the sedgy rim, 
Recalling days of former bliss. 

And the death-drops, that fall in showers. 

Seem honied dews from shady flowers. 



28o THE ENGLISH POETS 



There is a rustle of the breeze 
And twitter of the singing bird; 

He snatches at the melodies 
And his faint lips again are stirred; 

The olden sounds are in his ears; 

But still the snake its crest uprears. 

XI 

His eyes are swimming in the mist 
That films the earth h'ke serpent's breath: 

And now, — as if a serpent hissed, — 
The husky whisperings of Death 

Fill ear and brain — he looks around — 

Serpents seem matted o'er the ground. 

xn 

Soon visions of past joys bewitch 
His crafty soul; his hands would set 

Death's snare, while now his fingers twitch 
The tasselled reed as 'twere his net. 

But his thin lips no longer fill 

The woods with song; his flute is still. 

XIII 

Those lips still quaver to the flute. 
But fast the life-tide ebbs away; 

Those lips now quaver and are mute. 
But nature throbs in breathless play: 

Birds are in open song, the snakes 

Are watching in the silent brakes. 

XIV 

In sudden fear of snares unseen 
The birds like crimson sunset swarm. 

All gold and purple, red and green, 
And seek each other for the charm. 

Lizards dart up the feathery trees 

Like shadows of a rainbow breeze. 



THOMAS GORDON HAKE 281 

XV 

The wUdered birds again have rushed 

Into the charm, — it is the hour 
When the shrill forest-note is hushed, 

And they obey the serpent's power, — 
Drawn to its gaze with troubled whirr, 
As by the thread of falconer. 

XVI 

As 'twere to feed, on slanting wings 

They drop within the scipent's glare: 
Eyes flashing fire in burning rings 

Which spread into the dazzled air; 
They flutter in the glittering coils; 
The charmer dreads the serpent's toils. 

xvn 

While Music swims away in death 

Man's spell is passing to his slaves: 
The snake feeds on the charmer's breath, 

The vulture screams, the parrot raves, 
The lone hyena laughs and howls, 
The tiger from the jungle growls. 

xvni 

Then mounts the eagle — flame-flecked folds 

Belt its proud plumes; a feather falls: 
He hears the death-cry, he beholds 

The king-bird in the seipent's thralls. 
He looks with terror on the feud, — 
And the sun shines through dripping blood. 

XIX 

The deadly spell a moment gone — 

Birds, from a distant Paradise, 
Strike the winged signal and have flown. 

Trailing rich hues through azure skies: 
The seipent falls; like demon wings 
The far-out branching cedar swings. 



282 THE ENGLISH POETS 

XX 

The wood swims round; the pool and skies 
Have met; the death-drops down that cheek 

Fall faster; for the serpent's eyes 
Grow human, and the charmer's seek. 

A gaze like man's directs the dart 

Which now is buried at his heart. 

XXI 

The monarch of the world is cold: 
The charm he bore has passed away: 

The serpent gathers up its fold 
To wind about its hum^n prey. 

The red mouth darts a dizzy sting, 

And clenches the eternal ring. 



The Painter 



"Summer has done her work," the painter cries, 
And saunters down his garden by the shore. 

"The fig is cracked and dry; upon it lies, 
In crystals, the sweet oozing of its core. 

The peach melts in its pink and yellow beam; 
Grapes cluster to the earth in diadems 
Of dripping purple; from their slender stems, 
'Mid paler leaves, the dark-green citrons gleam. 

n 

"Summer has done her work; she, lingering, sees 
Her shady places glare: yet cooler grow 

The breezes as they stir the sunny trees 
Whose shaking twigs their ruby berries sow. 

Ripe is the fairy-grass, we breathe its seeds. . 
But, hanging o'er the rocks that belt the shore, 
Safe from the sea, above its bustling roar, 

Here ripen, still, the blossom-swinging weeds. 



THOMAS GORDON HAKE 283 

ni 

"Pale cressets on the summer waters shine, 

No ripple there but flings its jet of fire. 
Rich amber wrack still bronzing in the brine 

Is tossed ashore in daylight to expire. 
A wallowing wave the rocky shoal enwreathes; 

From the loose spray, cascades of bubbles fall 

Down steeps whose watery, coral-mantled wall 
Drinks of the billow, and the sunshine breathes. 

IV 

"Summer has done her work, but mine remains. 

How shall I shape these ever-murmuring waves, 
How interweave these rumours and refrains, 

These wind-tossed echoes of the listening caves? 
The restless rocky roar, the billow's splash. 

And the all-hushing shingle — hark! it blends, 

In open melody that never ends. 
The drone, the cavern-whisper, and the clash. 



"And this wide ruin of a once new shore 
Scooped by new waves to waves of solid rock, 

Dark-shelving, white- veined, as if marbled o'er 
By the fresh surf still trickling block to block! 

O worn-out waves of night, long set aside — 
The moulded storm is dead, contending rage, — 
Like monster-breakers of a by-gone age! 

And now the gentle waters o*er you ride. 

VI 

" Can my hand darken in swift rings of flight 
The air-path cut by the black sea-gulls' wings. 

Then fill the dubious track with influent light. 
While to my eyes the vanished vision clings? 

While at their sudden whirr the billows start. 
Can my hand hush the cymbal-sounding sea, 
That breaks with louder roar its reverie 

As those fast pinions into silence dart? 



284 THE ENGLISH POETS 

VII 

"Press on, ye summer waves, still gently swell, — 

The rainbow's parent- waters over-run! 
Can my poor brush your snaky greenness tell, 

Raising your sheeny bellies to the sun? 
What touch can pour you in yon pool of blue 

Circled with surging froth of liquid snow, 

Which now dissolves to emerald, now below 
Glazes the sunken rocks with umber hue? 

vni 

"Summer has done her work, dare I begin — 

Painting a desert, though my pencil craves 
To intertwine all tints with heaven akin? 

Nature has flung her palette to the waves! 
Then bid my eyes on cloudy landscape dwell, — 

Not revel in thy blaze. O beauteous scene! 

Between thy art and mine is nature's screen, — 
Transparent only to the soul,— farewell! 

IX 

"Oh! could I paint thee with these- ravished eyes, — 

Catch in my hollow palm thy overflow, 
Who broadcast fling'st away thy witcheries! 

Yet would I not desponding turn and go. 
Be it a feeble hand to thee I raise, 

'Tis still the worship of the soul within: 

Summer has done her work, — ^let mine begin, 
Though as the grass it wither in thy blaze." 

[From The New Day (1890)] ^ 
Sonnet x 

Genius and Poetry should still advance 
As Nature year by year extends her pale. 

Till widens past all reach the wide expanse. 
Disclosing heights that only She can scale. 

^ Written to a friend whom Hake believed to be the "science poet" 
of the future. 



THOMAS GORDON HAKE 285 

Science fulfils the poet's prophecy— 

Brings close the landscape that he saw afar, 
Even as the glass that takes and gives the sky 

Brings home from realms of cloud some burning star. 
So even within the farthest galaxy 

The science-poet knows what worlds are growing, 
Where Nature's votaries of all wisdom free, 

With far-off thought akin to his are glowing. 
Seize on the deathless prize, far-reaching friend! 
And yet let one same scroll our memories blend. 

Sonnet xxxii 

The thousand volumes of poetic lore 

By turns have fortunes and misfortunes made; 
One day these piles shall meet the eye no more, 

And in their own still honoured dust be laid. 
Great work leaves only greater to be done. 

New goals are straight ahead; then onward press, — 
On Nature's open course the gauntlet run; 

She basks in glory at a new success. 
The poetry of old is built on dream — 

A dream of beauty never coming true! — 
But Science shadows forth the nobler theme 

Of wondrous Nature; be it sung by you! 
Science and Nature, waiting hand in hand, 
Now on the threshold of the New Day stand. 



CHRISTINA ROSSETTI 

[Christina Georgina Rossetti was bom in London on December 5, 
1830. She was the youngest child of Gabriele and Lavinia Rossetti and 
a sister of Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Her first published verses were printed 
in the Pre-Raphaelite magazine, The Germ, in 1850. Her father died in 
1854, and thenceforward she lived, always in London, with her mother. 
Her first volume (other than a little privately printed experiment issued 
in 1847) was called Goblin Market and other Poems, and was published in 
1862. Other volumes of poetry followed in 1866 and 1881, and she also 
published several devotional works in prose. A considerable nimiber of 
unpublished poems were collected and issued after her death by her sur- 
viving brother, Mr. W. M. Rossetti. Her life was one of great seclusion, 
devoted to religious exercises and works of charity. A very severe illness 
in middle life left her health gravely afifected, and for many years before 
her death she was much of an invalid. She died on December 29, 1894.] 

The peculiar gift of Christina Rossetti is one of the rarest in 
poetry, if not of the greatest: it is the gift of song. She had a 
fountain of music within her which never ceased altogether in 
her life, strangely as her life seemed to narrow itself and her shy 
diflScult spirit to shrink from experience. She was a cloistered 
soul that mistrusted the attraction of the world, turning away 
from it, not indeed in fear, but with a cpnviction of its vanity. 
The world had all the charm for her that it has for an exquisite and 
sensuous nature; yet her rejection of it, with whatever sacrifice of 
herself, was sober and deliberate, for she did not know the great 
disruptive forces of illumination and conversion. She was inex- 
perienced even in the fevour of her saintliness. Her fine powers 
of mind and imagination were kept in a narrow groove by a puritan 
rule which she adopted from the very first and held to the end. 
She would not move outside it, surrounded though she was with 
some of the fullest and most striking opportunities, aesthetic and 
intellectual, of her generation. It is a curiously grey and insular 
story for a poetess of her origin and endowment, and the strangest 
part of it all is that her vivid lyrical impulse never entirely left her 
or lost its freedom. 

The world of her own, the world she elected to live in, had this 



CHRISTINA ROSSETTI 287 

one opening towards the outer air, but she made the most of it. 
Having protected herself against life, once for all, by a code of duty 
unnaturally arid, in her poetry she drew close to a kind of beauty 
that was all earthly warmth and fragrance. She who moved in fact 
through a maze of anxious scruples could here pass out, with a 
power of undimmed enjo3anent, into an almost Hellem'c sunshine. 
There is to be found in her earlier poems, and not only in these, a 
franker and simpler delight in the budding and flowering and fruit- 
ing of nature, in the turn of the quick tractable Engb'sh seasons, in 
the happy grace of birds and furry creatures, than has often been 
seen in a literature in which, for the most part, the natural world is 
made the very groundwork of philosophy. Christina Rossetti had 
no need of a philosophy, for she never doubted the meaning of life, 
sorely as she might doubt herself. When she could escape from 
this perplexity, therefore, she was as free as a swallow, and her 
native humanity, clear and sane and direct, enjoyed the earth and 
its increase without a question. The dawn and flush of spring, the 
rapture of yoimg love, the lark-song of a simimer cornfield — she 
knew and uttered such moments with a music that has their very 
own sense of wonder and newness and liberation. She does not 
study or describe, but her verse is continually full of coimtry 
weather, airs blowing and simlight falling — ^images caught and 
reflected in a memory as lucid, as keen and thoughtless, as a child's. 
The beautiful originality of her poems in this mood is of a kind 
that makes her the truest "Pre-Raphaelite" of all the famous 
group. If the word was meant to imply a way of looking at things 
with new eyes and an ingenuous mind, it suited her long after her 
brother and the rest had diverged upon their different lines. They 
were soon corrupted by knowledge and reflection, and passed on to 
maturity. Christina never matched their achievement, but neither 
could they show anything like the spring-charm, the wild-fnut 
savour that her work so often had even in later years. Her fine 
felicity in romance sprang straight from an imagination which in a 
sense was always as bare and clear as the room where she sits in her 
brother's painting of the Annimciation. She could let her fancy 
riot, as in Goblin Market , with wayward profusion; but its opulence 
is that of a dream, with no attachment to life and ready to vanish 
in a moment. It was an imagination acutely sensitive to the colour 
and shape and touch and taste of things — of queer and grotesque 
things as much as any other. But the mere world could not lay 
hold on it, and for this very reason it stands out with a singular 



288 THE ENGLISH POETS 

shining freshness. If ever in her work she ventured, as she seldom 
did, into actual life, it was evidently because she was tempted by 
the example of Mrs. Browning; and she was then betrayed into a 
kind of sentimentahty very unlike Mrs. Browning's passionate 
intellectual honesty. In the world of dreams her brilliance, au- 
dacity, even humour, are always alive and true. 

Her lyrical youth survived in her, then, carrying with it youth's 
obstinate anxieties, but never absorbed, either to its enrichment or 
its extinction, in a wider range of interests. She clung to the faith 
she had found in her earUest years and allowed it, for hard reasons 
that seemed good to her, to cut her off from a fuller emotional life. 
It was not so much any mystical ardour that saved her from em- 
bitterment as the mere kindly naturalness of the impulses she 
crossed. The flame of her spirit was bright, by its own human 
virtue, through all her long and grievous self- vexation; and there 
are poems of hers, those that are now perhaps most often returned 
to, in which it glows with a profoundly attaching and appealing 
beauty. It might be a slender handful of experience that fed the 
fire; but there could be nothing loftier than the sincerity with which 
the single-minded votaress of an ideal passion refused to misunder- 
stand or to misprize the memory she guarded. The poetry she 
dedicated to it has the charm of a perfect loyalty to the sweetness 
of earthly love. If, for trust in its power, she lacked a certain 
generosity of soul, she would not for that deny it, or attempt to give 
it any name but its own. No songs or elegies of love show a simpler 
and straighter sense of its magic than do hers, and in few is it 
expressed with a melody more fervent and eager. Their pathos is 
very great, for even in disappointment and disillusion they retain 
the sensitive candour of youth, with all its power of suffering and 
all its instinct for happiness. 

But the burden of her creed lay heavily on her — so heavily, so 
little to her encouragement or even her peace of mind, that it seems 
alien to her, as though it must have been imposed, as perhaps it 
was to some extent, by a stronger will from without. Her elder 
sister was apparently altogether satisfied and reassured by the 
support of a narrow faith; but Christina was not satisfied, she was 
only determined to be; and she was far indeed, even to the end, 
from ever being reassured. She was haunted and dismayed by the 
thought of her unworthiness, not inspired by it; and this discord in 
her nature affected her genius unfortunately, as was natural; the 
wonder is that it did not ruin and stifle it. A monotony of mood as- 



CHRISTINA ROSSETTI 289 

serted itself more and more in her work. She held fast to the idea 
that the only road to harmony is through renimciation; but the 
passion she poured into the act of self-sacrifice, strong as it was, 
had not the substance, had rather, perhaps, a too pure and artless 
simplicity, to create a positive life for her in the ideal. She missed 
the freedom of adventure and exultation that is discovered there 
by the true mystic. The poetry of Christina Rossetti touches this 
height at moments, but generally it is caught by the way on the 
thorny sense of her own ingratitude and faithlessness, and pre- 
occupied to excess with the stern contrast between the enchant- 
ments of the world and the promises of eternity. 

None the less her "devotional " poetry, though wanting vigour of 
thought, is always distinguished, and of rare splendour at its best. 
The movement of her genius had a peculiar dignity; and though 
she wrote much that has no great value, much that is merely 
tentative and but half-expressed, she wrote almost nothing which 
does not show the controlled nerve of an admirable style. Her 
command of rhythm and metre, by no means faultless, had a very 
remarkable scope. She adopted or invented a great variety of 
measures, and used them with an ease which falls short of real 
mastery only through lacking the last edge of care; her spontaneity 
is equally unforced, whether it flings out its own irregular but living 
shape or whether it fills a traditional one, and some of her effects 
of repeated rhymes and refrains have the happiest originality. And 
mastery, with no qualification whatever, is displayed in the robust- 
ness and purity of her diction. She learned it from the Bible, of 
course, but there was something in it which she perhaps learned 
also from the only other book she studied much, the Divifte Comedy, 
If she could marshal a pomp of words with prophetic fervour, she 
could give to homely turns and phrases a stateliness and gravity 
which at times is not far from the art of Dante. Such sympathy for 
words, such perception of their value and ring, is for whatever 
reason rarely a feminine gift; and in all this Christina Rossetti had 
a wider reach and a surer taste than any woman who has written 
our language — she, the one to whom it was not native. 

But her place among all great poets is not less certain. In spite 
of her limitations and her thwarted development, she had the true 
heart of song; and by virtue of it she has her own supremacy. 
Song which seems to draw its life from the dew and breeze of 
summer, warm ripeness that is yet freshness, transparent sunshine 
that has still the suggestion of clean showers — such is the song of 



290 THE ENGLISH POETS 

Christina Rossetti, and her slender achievement is in its way 
unique. Life should have fostered a genius and nature like hers. 
Her instinct was entirely Ijrrical, and even when she wished to write 
allegories and moralities, Tke Princess Progress or the Convent 
Threshold, pure irresponsible music would break out imcontrollably 
in her argument. It must seem one of the calamities of poetry that 
she should have missed a fuller growth and that so much of her 
work should have been overhimg with sterile shadows. Away from 
them she uttered some of the most singing melodies, blithe and sad, 
to be found in English verse. 

Percy Lubbock. 



Noble Sisters 

"Now did you mark a falcon, 

Sister dear, sister dear. 
Flying toward my window 

In the morning cool and clear? 
With jingling bells about her neck, 

But what beneath her wing? 
It may have been a ribbon, 
Or it may have been a ring." — 
"I marked a falcon swooping 

At the break of day: 
And for your love, my sister dove, 
I 'frayed the thief away." — 

"Or did you spy a ruddy hound. 

Sister fair and tall. 
Went snuffing roimd my garden bound, 

Or crouched by my bower wall? 
With a silken leash about his neck; 

But in his mouth may be 
A chain of gold and silver links. 
Or a letter writ to me." — 

"I heard a hoimd, highborn sister. 

Stood baying at the moon: 
I rose and drove him from your wall 
Lest you should wake too soon." — 



CHRISTINA ROSSETTI 291 

"Or did you meet a pretty page 

Sat swinging on the gate? 
Sat whistling whistling hke a bird, 

Or may be slept too late: 
With eaglets broidered on his cap, 

And eaglets on his glove. 
If you had turned his pockets out, 
You had foimd some pledge of love." — 
"I met him at this daybreak, 

Scarce the east was red: 
Lest the creaking gate should anger you 
I packed him home to bed." — 

"O patience, sister! Did you see 

A young man tall and strong. 
Swift-footed to uphold the right 

And to uproot the wrong, 
Come home across the desolate sea 

To woo me for his wife? 
And in his heart my heart is locked, 
And in his life my life." — 
"I met a nameless man, sister. 
Who loitered round our door: 
I said: Her husband loves her much 
And yet she loves him more." — 

" Fie, sister, fie, a wicked lie, 

A lie, a wicked lie! 
I have none other love but him. 

Nor will have till I die. 
And you have turned him from our door. 

And stabbed him with a lie: 
I will go seek him thro' the world 
In sorrow till I die." — 
" Go seek in sorrow, sister. 
And find in sorrow too: 
If thus you shame our father's name 
My curse go forth with you." 



292 THE ENGLISH POETS 



Dream Land 

Where sunless rivers weep 
Their waves into the deep, 
She sleeps a charmed sleep: 

Awake her not. 
Led by a single star, 
She came from very far 
To seek where shadows are 

Her pleasant lot. 

She left the rosy mom, 
She left the fields of corn, 
For twilight cold and lorn 

And water springs. 
Through sleep, as through a veil, 
She sees the sky look pale, 
And hears the nightingale 

That sadly sings. 

Rest, rest, a perfect rest 
Shed over brow and breast; 
Her face is toward the west. 

The purple land. 
She cannot see the grain 
Ripening on hill and plain, 
She cannot feel the rain 

Upon her hand. 

Rest, rest, for evermore 

Upon a mossy shore; 

Rest, rest, at the heart's core 

Till time shall cease: 
Sleep that no pain shall wake; 
Night that no morn shall break, 
Till joy shall overtake 

Her perfect peace. 



CHRISTINA ROSSETTI 293 



Bride-song 

[From The Prince's Progress] 

Day is over, the day that wore. 

What is this that comes through the door, 

The face covered, the feet before? 

This that coming takes his breath; 
This Bride not seen, to be seen no more 

Save of Bridegroom Death? 

Veiled figures canying her 

Sweep by yet make no stir; 

There is a smell of spice and myrrh, 

A bride-chant burdened with one name; 
The bride-song rises steadier 

Than the torches* flame: — 

"Too late for love, too late for joy, 

Too late, too late! 
You loitered on the road too long, 

You trifled at the gate: 
The enchanted dove upon her branch 

Died without a mate; 
The enchanted princess in her tower 

Slept, died, behind the grate; 
Her heart was starving all this while 
• You made it wait. 

"Ten years ago, five years ago, 

One year ago, 
Even then you had arrived in time, 

Though somewhat slow;* 
Then you had known her living face 

Which now you cannot know: 
The frozen fountain would have leaped, 

The buds gone on to blow. 
The warm south wind would have awaked 

To melt the snow. 



294 THE ENGLISH POETS 

"Is she fair now as she lies? 

Once she was fair; 
Meet queen for any kingly king, 

With gold-dust on her hair. 
Now these are poppies in her locks, 

White poppies she must wear; 
Must wear a veil to shroud her face 

And the want graven there: 
Or is the hunger fed at length, 

Cast off the care? 



"We never saw her with a smile 

Or with a frown; 
Her bed seemed never soft to her, 

Though tossed of down; 
She little heeded what she wore, 

Kirtle, or wreath, or gown; 
We think her white brows often ached 

Beneath her crown. 
Till silvery hairs showed in her locks 

That used to be so brown. 



"We never heard her speak in haste; 

Her tones were sweet, 
And modulated just so much 

As it was meet: 
Her heart sat silent through the noise 

And concourse of the street. 
There was no hurry in her hands. 

No hurry in her feet; 
There was no bliss drew nigh to her, 

That she might run to greet. 

"You should have wept her yesterday, 

Wasting upon her bed: 
But wherefore should you weep to-day 

That she is dead? 
Lo we who love weep not to-day, 

But crown her royal head. 



CHRISTINA ROSSETTI 295 

Let be these poppies that we strew, 

Your roses are too red: 
Let be these poppies, not for you 

Cut down and spread." 



Song 

When I am dead, my dearest, 

Sing no sad songs for me; 
Plant thou no roses at my head, 

Nor shady cypress tree: 
Be the green grass above me 

With showers and dewdrops wet: 
And if thou wilt, remember, 

And if thou wilt, forget. 

I shall not see the shadows, 

I shall not feel the rain; 
I shall not hear the nightingale 

Sing on as if in pain: 
And dreaming through the twilight 

That doth not rise nor set. 
Haply I may remember, 

And haply may forget. 



A Birthday 

My heart is like a singing bird 

Whose nest is in a watered shoot: 
My heart is like an apple-tree 

Whose boughs are bent with thickset fruit; 
My heart is like a rainbow shell 

That paddles in a halcyon sea; 
My heart is gladder than all these 

Because my love is come to me. 

Raise me a dais of silk and down; 

Hang it with vair and purple dyes; 
Carve it in doves and pomegranates, 

And peacocks with a hundred eyes; 



296 THE ENGLISH POETS 

Work it in gold and silver grapes, 
In leaves and silver fleurs-de-lys; 

Because the birthday of my life 
Is come, my love is come to me. 



At Home 

When I was dead, my spirit turned 

To seek the much-frequented house. 
I passed the door, and saw my friends 

Feasting beneath green orange-boughs; 
From hand to hand they pushed the wine, 

They sucked the pulp of plum and peach; 
They sang, they jested, and they laughed, 

For each was loved of each. 

I listened to their honest chat. 

Said one: "To-morrow we shall be 
Plod plod along the featureless sands, 

And coasting miles and miles of sea. 
Said one: "Before the turn of tide 

We will achieve the eyrie-seat." 
Said one: "To-morrow shall be like 

To-day, but much more sweet." 

"To-morrow," said they, strong with hope. 

And dwelt upon the pleasant way: 
"To-morrow," cried they one and all. 

While no one spoke of yesterday. 
Their life stood full at blessed noon; 

I, only I, had passed away: 
"To-morrow and to-day," they cried; 

I was of yesterday. 

I shivered comfortless, but cast 

No chill across the tablecloth; 
I all-forgotten shivered, sad 

To stay and yet to part how loth: 



CHRISTINA ROSSETTI 297 

I passed from the familiar room, 

I who from love had passed away, 
Like the remembrance of a guest 

That tarrieth but a day. 

Up-hill 

Does the road wind up-hill all the way? 

Yes, to the very end. 
Will the day's journey take the whole long day? 

From mom to night, my friend. 

But is there for the night a resting-place? 

A roof for when the slow dark hours begin. 
May not the darkness hide it from my face? 

You cannot miss that inn. 

Shall I meet othpr wayfarers at night? 

Those who have gone before. 
Then must I knock, or call when just in sight? 

They will not keep you standing at that door. 

Shall I find comfort, travel-sore and weak? 

Of labour you shall find the sum. 
Will there be beds for me and all who seek? 

Yea, beds for all who come. 

Shut Out 

The door was shut. I looked between 

Its iron bars; and saw it lie. 

My garden, mine, beneath the sky, 
Pied with all flowers bedewed and green. 

From bough to bough the song-birds crossed, 
From flower to flower the moths and bees: 
With all its nests and stately trees 

It had been mine, and it was lost. 

A shadowless spirit kept the gate. 
Blank and unchanging like the grave. 
I, peering through, said: "Let me have 

Some buds to cheer my outcast state." 



298 THE ENGUSH POETS 

' He answered not. "Or give me, then, 
But one small twig from shrub or tree; 
And bid my home remember me 
Until I come to it again." 

The spirit was silent; but he took 
Mortar and stone to build a wall; 
He left no loophole great or small 

Through which my straim'ng eyes might look. 

So now I sit here quite alone, 
Blinded with tears; nor grieve for that, 
For nought is left worth looking at 

Since my delightful land is gone. 

A violet bed is budding near, 
Wherein a lark has made her nest; 
And good they are, but not the best; 

And dear they are, but not so dear. 



Echo 

Come to me in the silence of the night; 

Come in the speaking silence of a dream; 
Come with soft rounded cheeks and eyes as bright 

As sunlight on a stream; 
Come back in tears, 
O memory, hope, love of finished years. 

O dream how sweet, too sweet, too bitter sweet, 
Whose wakening should have been in Paradise, 

Where souls brimfull of love abide and meet; 
Where thirsting longing eyes 
Watch the slpw door 

That opening, letting in, lets out no more. 

Yet come to me in dreams, that I may live 
My very life again though cold in death: 

Come back to me in dreams, that I may give 
Pulse for pulse, breath for breath: 
Speak low, lean low, 

As long ago, my love, how long ago. 



CHRISTINA ROSSETTI 299 



A CmasTMAS Carol 

In the bleak mid-winter 

Frosty wind made moan, 
Earth stood hard as iron, 

Water like a stone; 
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, 

Snow on snow, 
In the bleak mid-winter 

Long ago. 

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him 

Nor earth sustain; 
Heaven and earth shall flee away 

When He comes to reign: 
In the bleak mid- winter 

A stable-place sufficed 
The Lord God Ahnighty 

Jesus Christ. 

Enough for Him, whom cherubim 

Worship night and day, 
A breastful of milk 

And a mangerful of hay: 
Enough for Him, whom angels 

Fall down before, 
The ox and ass and camel 

Which adore. 

Angels and archangels 

May have gathered there, 
Cherubim and seraphim 

Thronged the air; 
But only His mother 

In her maiden bliss 
Worshipped the Beloved 

With a kiss. 



300 THE ENGLISH POETS 

What can I give Him, 

Poor as I am? 
If I were a shepherd 

I would bring a lamb, 
If I were a Wise Man 

I would do my part, — 
Yet what I can I give Him, 

Give my heart. 



Passing Away 

Passing away, saith the World, passing away: 

Chances, beauty, and youth, sapped day by day; 

Thy life never continueth in one stay. 

Is the eye waxen dim, is the dark hair changing to grey 

That hath won neither laurel nor bay? 

I shall clothe myself in Spring and bud in May: 

Thou, root-stricken, shalt not rebuild thy decay 

On my bosom for aye. 

Then I answered : Yea. 

Passing away, saith my Soul, passing away: 

With its burden of fear and hope, of labour and play, 

Hearken what the past doth witness and say: 

Rust in thy gold, a moth is in thine array, 

A canker is in thy bud, thy leaf must decay. 

At midnight, at cockcrow, at morning, one certain day 

Lo the Bridegroom shall come and. shall not delay; 

Watch thou and pray. 

Then I answered: Yea. 

Passing away, saith my God, passing away: 

Winter passeth after the long delay: 

New grapes on the vine, new figs on the tender spray, 

Turtle calleth turtle in Heaven's May. 

Though I tarry, wait for Me, trust Me, watch and pray: 

Arise, come away, night is past and lo it is day, 

My love. My sister. My spouse, thou shalt hear Me say. 

Then I answered: Yea. 



GEORGE MEREDITH 

[Born 1828, at Portsmouth; his grandfather and father were tailors 
(once prosperous) and his four aunts were among the beauties of the town. 
He completed his education at the Moravian school at Neuwied, where 
he learnt German thoroughly. For a time he was articled to a London 
solicitor, but soon turned to literature. Married in 1849 & daughter of 
Thomas Love Peacock, who left him nine years later and died in 1861 : 
he married again in 1864. In 1855 ^^ published The Shaving of Shagputy 
in 1859 The Ordeal of Richard Feverd; but before this he had published a 
volume of Poems (1851) — ^a complete failure commercially, but now one 
of the rarest and costliest of modem books. Meredith's main work 
henceforth was novel-writing, but he did not really command a large 
public till 1 885 , with Diana of the Crossways. His chief volumes of Poetry 
were Modern Love (1862), Poems and Lyrics of the Joy of Earth (1883), 
Ballads and Poems of Tragic Life (1887), and A Reading of Earth (1888). 
He received the Order of Merit in 1905, and died four years later, a 
memorial service being held in Westminster Abbey.] 

It is not likely that very much of George Meredith's poetry will 
ever be widely read. He is probably the most difficult of all our 
poets, as difficult habitually as Shakespeare and Shelley are occa- 
sionally. He seems to have been totally indifferent to the truth of 
that generally soimd maxim with which Johnson rebuked the 
critics of Pope's Homer: " the purpose of a writer is to be read." It 
does not appear that he acted on any very clear distinction between 
poetry and prose, or even between prose and verse. The result is 
that his poetry often fails to satisfy perfectly legitimate and rea- 
sonable expectations. 

People go to poetry for three things: for the delight with which it 
enraptures the ear, for its quickening and uplifting of the imagina- 
tion, for the harvest of wisdom and truth to be reaped from its 
exhibition of the true life of nature and of man. From the greatest 
poetry they get all thtee at once. From Meredith, it must be 
sadly confessed, they get the first, the music of sound, very seldom: 
the second oftener, but far from always: the third almost always, 
though frequently presented in a manner and mood which belong 
rather to prose than to poetry. As to the first, it can only be said 
that Meredith, master of language as he was, was utterly defiant 



302 THE ENGLISH POETS 

of the limitations, without which poetry as an art could not be. 
He could write, when he chose, things as exquisite as Love in the 
Valley or those stanzas in The Young Princess which, whatever 
they owe to Tennyson, could only have been borrowed by a master 
of music: 

"The soft night-wind went laden to death 
With smell of the orange in flower; 
The light leaves prattled to neighbour ears; . 
The bird of the passion sang over his tears: 
The night named hour by hour. 

Sang loud, sang low the rapturous bird 

Till the yellow hour was nigh 
Behind the folds of a darker cloud: 
He chuckled, he sobbed, alow, aloud: 

The voice between earth and sky." 

But he more often chose to write in a kind of shorthand, neither 
p)oetry nor prose, which is often ugly and always obscure. What is 
to be said of such abominations of hideousness as: 

"Love meet they who do not shove 

Cravings in the van of Love, 
or 

"Melpomene among her livid people, 

Ere stroke of lyre, upon Thaleia looks," 

or of such contortions of obscurity as: 

"A woman who is wife despotic lords 
Count faggot at the question, Shall she live. — 

except, what Meredith himself said of Whitman, that the Muse 
would "fain have taught" poets who treat their art in this reckless 
and insolent fashion: 

"what fruitful things and dear 
Must sink beneath the tidewaves, of their weight, 
If in no vessel built for sea they swim." 

The truth is that Meredith never chose to accept the conditions 
of thought and language under which poetry works. Not only did 
he write many long poems such as The Empty Purse which consist 
almost entirely of abstract argument utterly alien to the simple and 



GEORGE MEREDITH 303 

sensuous nature of poetry; but even into his true poems he intro- 
duces, without any apparent consciousness of a false note, such 
phrases of pure prose as "the taint of personality" or "the brain's 
reflex." Everywhere his poetry suffers from an over-activity of 
the mere intellect, working almost by itself, and not as poetry 
demands, in alliance with the senses and the imagination. 

Yet it is quite possible that the best of his poetry will outlast his 
novels. For, brilliant as the novels are, they would scarcely seem 
to have that assured serenity of beauty and truth which, far more 
than any such restless cleverness as theirs, is the mark of the 
novel made for immortality as we see it in Don Quixote and Gold- 
smith's Vicar and the immortal company of the Waverleys. No 
novels ever had so much brains come to their making as Meredith's; 
but the supreme work of art demands a harmony of qualities of 
which brains can only supply one. And however high we place 
the novels, poetry is still more than prose and — ^what is our present 
point — has commonly proved much the better stayer. That is 
not merely because its art is of a finer order. It is because, more 
even than the highest prose, it belongs to a world in which the 
contemporary is seen, as it were, from a height and in its true 
proportions. For this reason great poetry is of all time and is 
always modem. Even the Waverley Novels have in them far more 
matter which is now felt to be old-fashioned and to need explana- 
tion, than the contemporary poems of Wordsworth or Shelley. 
And so with Meredith ; if a man really is a poet, his poetry, in spite 
of the exception of Scott, is generally the safest bottom in which he 
may embark for immortality. Clever as Meredith's poetry is, it is 
never so brilliant as Diana or The Egoist. But Diana and The 
Egoist belong much more decidedly to the Victorian age and much 
more doubtfully to posterity than Love in the Valley or A Day of the 
Daughter of Hades, There is not a line in these poems which our 
grandchildren will find worse than harsh or difficult. There are 
many pages in the novels which they will find out of date, odd, and 
perhaps a little ridiculous. And whatever his poetic faults, Mere- 
dith was a true poet. A poet is one in whose words man and nature 
seem to be alive with a life of which no prose has the secret, a life 
at once natural and transcendental, at once known and unknow- 
able. So Meredith himself says: 

"strange 

When it strikes to within is the known: 

Richer than newness revealed." 



304 TBE ENGLISH POETS 

We live in a world of wonder. Some of us have little power to 
see it; some have no will. But the poet has both, and both in the 
highest degree. No one will for a moment deny either the will or 
the power to Meredith. To him the face, both of earth and of man, 
has sacramental value; it truly is what it seems to be and yet is so 
much more: and the life of the spirit h'es in learning what that "so 
much more" may mean to those who have eyes to see it. To feel 
it is to attain to the consciousness of what lifts man above the in- 
different beasts of the field. "There," says Meredith, as he gazes 
on the Winter Heavens, 

"there, past mortal breath. 

Life glistens on the river of the death. 

It folds us, flesh and dust: and have we knelt, 

Or never knelt, or eyed as kine the springs 

Of radiance, yet the radiance enrings; 

And this is the soul's haven to have felt." 

Into that haven Meredith's poetry, at its best, victoriously takes 
us. The glistening radiance of which he speaks is in all his finest 
poetry; and he makes us feel, as few p)oets do, both the manifold 
energies of earth, her fiery struggles, her everlasting movement, the 
beauty of her eternal interchange of death and birth, and the com- 
panion life of the body and spirit of man, responding to this kind 
but exacting and remorseless mother, living, working, loving, 
struggling ever upward into a life which more and more rejoices in 
realizing itself as a single link in a chain or ascending scale of time- 
less existence. If the multifold matter on which he lays his hand 
often fails to answer in music to the touch, yet little of it fails to 
answer in a new significance of life. History, myth, and the world 
of to-day all gain by his vivifying imagination. Few poets have 
created a more arresting vision of one of these mysterious incidents 
which are the turning-points of history than he in The Nuptials of 
AUila. There is not much political poetry which equals either in 
historical insight, or in imaginative power, the strangely neglected 
Odes in Contribution to the Song of French History which the poet 
himself valued as highly as any verse he had written. The second 
ode, that on Napoleon, contains perhaps the most penetrating 
analysis of his character ever written. The third, Francey Decem- 
ber , 1870, which we give here, has in it more of the prophetic spirit 
than any poetry written in England since Wordsworth or perhaps 
since Milton. And he shows the same power in his handling of 



GEORGE MEREDITH 305 

mytb. The idea, and much of the execution, of The Day of the 
Daughter of Hades makes it one of the most beautiful adaptations of 
ancient legend to the uses of an ever-changing humanity which any 
language can boast. It assumes too much knowledge in the reader, 
no doubt, as Phcebus with Admetus also does; but in spite of 
crudities and obscurities both are true imaginative creations, and 
have played a real part in helping modem Englishmen to perceive 
the imdjdng significance and beauty of Greek story. And of course 
the author of the novels could not but be even more at home in the 
world of his own day. What modem poet has given us a finer, more 
tragic, or truer contemporary drama than Modern Love, of which, 
by the way, the difficulty is generally much exaggerated? When 
once the key explaining "Madam" as the wife and the "Lady" as 
the other woman has been firmly grasped, a very few readings will 
make nearly all the sonnets fairly clear. And Tennyson was as 
incapable of the subtlety, humour, and understanding of the 
feminine point of view shown in the Ballad of Fair Ladies in Revolt 
as Meredith was incapable of producing the lyrics which are the 
imperishable glory of Tennyson's Princess, 

Yet, fine as these and other strictly himian poems are, in Mere- 
dith's poetry, unlike his novels. Nature is more than Man. Even in 
the novels Nature is no bad second. There are readers to whom 
their wit scarcely gives so much pleasure as their living and inti- 
mate knowledge of all the things that may be seen and heard by a 
man who likes being out of doors, has keen eyes, ears and brains, 
and makes the most of all of them. But this eager sympathy with 
birds and beasts and trees and clouds is even more omnipresent in 
the poems. Perhaps no English poet except Wordsworth and 
Tenn)rson brings back to a man who is fond of walking over the 
face of England so many of his keenest experiences, or prepares 
him for more and keener next time. No doubt Meredith is, in the 
Johnsonian phrase, "a tremendous companion." You cannot 
dream or doze with him, as you may with Keats, for instance. The 
"gentle doings" of Nature which Keats found softer than ring- 
dove's cooings are not much in Meredith's way. He seldom broods 
over his own thoughts, or sets us brooding over ours. What he 
does is to translate them into an energy of will and action — in a 
word, of life. What he finds in Nature and Man he makes into a 
kind of creed or philosophy of life. The two are for him, more 
than for most poets, one subject seen from two points of view: 
Earth, the mother of man; Man, the son who is mstantly lost if he 



3o6 THE ENGLISH POETS 

attempts to forget or defy his mother. This is his central article 
of faith, and on it he builds a sort of doctrine or practical faith on 
which an excellent book has been written by Mr. George Trevel- 
yan. It is a doctrine of courage, endurance, and strength, a facing 
of all facts, a refusing of all anodynes, a faith not in Heaven but 
in Earth, not in God but in Man. There is no rejection of a world 
of spirit: but in Meredith's view that world must be reached not 
by the denial of the body but by its healthy and disciplined af- 
firmation, not by attempting to despise or escape Earth but by 
loving her, and walking in her ways with firm and faithful feet. 

"Into the breast that gives the rose, 
Shall I with shuddering fall? 
Earth, the mother of all, 
Moves on her stedfast way, 
Gathering, flinging, sowing. 
Mortals, we live in her day. 
She in her children is growing. 

She can lead us, only she, 

Unto God's footstool, whither she reaches: 

Loved, enjoyed, her gifts must be. 

Reverenced the truths she teaches, 

Ere a man may hope that he 

Ever can attain the glee 

Of things without a destiny! " 

So he wrote in his early Spirit of Earth in Autumn, and the same 
doctrine is again and again repeated with slightly varied stress in 
poem after poem all through bis life. No one will dispute its 
manliness, its note of health and sanity. But perhaps neither the 
poet himself nor Mr. Trevelyan fully realizes how lacking in tender- 
ness, how short of healing power, it must at times appear to or- 
dinary sufifering, struggling, sinning men and women. Perhaps no 
man can explain his own faith. Perhaps the strength which he 
beh'eves himself to receive from a doctrine, whether of heaven or 
of earth, which can be stated in words, commonjy comes from 
some breath of spirit which refuses definition, and has no ancestry 
that can be set out in a genealogical tree. When Meredith puts 
his creed to the supreme test, as his wife lay dying, and gives us 
the result in that uplifting poem A Faith on Trial, it is better not 



GEORGE MEREDITH 307 

to ask too curiously whether, in actual fact, the consolation and 
strength which he seems to himself to derive from Earth and her 
wild cherry blossom have or can have any other ultimate origin 
than the spirit, divine or human, which has spoken through the 
noblest voices of Israel, Greece, Italy, and England. When in 
another fine poem. In the Woods, he declares that the "green earth" 
"gave me warnings of sin" and lessons "of good and evil at strife. 
And the struggle upward of all And my choice of the glory of Life," 
we need not ask how such teaching can possibly come of "Earth." 
It is enough that it comes; that the poet's spirit, and ours with his, 
is in Earth's presence quickened into a new and higher energy of 
life, strengthened to struggle and endure, delivered of self, set free 
to enjoy, made ready for acceptance and peace. 

"Take up thy song from woods and fields 
Whilst thou hast heart, and living yields 

Delight: let that expire — 
Let thy delight in living die, 
Take thou thy song from star and sky, 

And join the silent quire." 

There we get his creed, purged of its harshness, passing out of 
intellectualism into music, into that musical reason which is poetry; 
which, because it is music, cannot be so definite and articulate as if 
it were mere words. But even in the harsher statements of his 
doctrine, such as Earth and Man, or The Test of Manhood, or The 
Thrush in February, poetry, if poetry be that which by the help of 
the imagination sets the spirit free, is always triumphing over the 
obstacles put in its way by an over-restless brain and an ear that 
heard discords without noticing them. Take the great conclusion 
of The Thrush, with its lovely closing simile: he is speaking of his 
beloved earth: — 

"She, judged of shrinking nerves, appears 
A Mother whom no cry can melt; 
But read her past desires and fears, 
The letters on her breast are spelt. 

A slayer, yea, as when she pressed 
Her savage to the slaughter-heaps, 
To sacrifice she prompts her bfest: 
She reaps them as the sower reaps. 



3o8 THE ENGLISH POETS 

But read her thought to speed the race, 
And stars rush forth of blackest night: 
You chai not at a cold embrace 
To come, ilor dread a dubious might. 



The sighting brain her good decree 
Accepts; obeys those guides,^ in faith, 
By reason hourly fed, that she. 
To some the clod, to some the wraith, 

Is more, no mask; a flame, a stream. 
Flame, stream, are we, in mid career 
From torrent source, delirious dream, 
To heaven-reflecting currents clear. 

And why the sons of Strength have been 
Her cherished offspring ever; how 
The Spirit served by her is seen 
Through Law; perusing love will show. 

Love born of knowledge, love that gains 
Vitality as Earth it mates. 
The meaning of the Pleasures, Pains, 
The Life, the Death, illuminates. 

For love we Earth, then serve we all; 
Her mystic secret then is ours: 
We fall, or view our treasures fall, 
Unclouded, as beholds her flowers 

Earth, from a night of frosty wreck, 
Enrobed in morning's mounted fire, 
When lowly, with a broken neck. 
The crocus lays her cheek to mire." 

The crown of all is given in the strange, difficult, glorious Hymn 
to Coloufy which is for Meredith a single name for the material 
splendours of Earth and Heaven and the spiritual glories of human 
Love. With that key men will " come out of brutishness," becom- 
ing gods without ceasing, or wishing to cease, to be animals. 

1 i. e. Pain and Pleasure mentioned in the omitted stanzas. 



GEORGE MEREDITH 309 

" More gardens will they win than any lost; 
The vile plucked out of them, the unlovely slain. 
Not forfeiting the beast with which they are crossed, 
To stature of the Gods will they attain. 
They shall uplift their Earth to meet her Lord, 
Themselves the attuning chord!" 

Poetry has, perhaps, to-day a greater work to do than ever be- 
fore; and never a better chance of doing it. Each poet can only do 
it in his own way. He gets the gain and pays the penalty of that 
way being what it is, which is another way of saying of being him- 
self. Here is Meredith's way: what he wrote is what he was. His 
way is not easy walking. The right and happy thing when we 
read poetry is to be so caught up into the poet's being, so absorbed 
in him, that for the time we spontaneously see with his eyes, 
think his thoughts, speak his words. With no poet is that more 
difficult than with Meredith. Yet, if and so far as we attain to it, 
we get a new vision of Earth and of Man from one who had looked 
on both with an eye of rarest keenness, penetration, and love. 
Truth and Beauty gain for us a fuller meam'ng. We perceive more, 
Jove more, live more. For the life Meredith gives is the life in 
which, more than all but a very few men, he believed: a life which 
meant knowing as well as loving, loving as well as knowing. 

John Bailey. 
The Spirit of Shakesfeabe ^ 
I 
Thy greatest knew thee, Mother Earth; unsoured 
He knew thy sons. He probed from hell to hell 
Of human passions, but of love deflowered 
His wisdom was not, for he knew thee well. 
Thence came the honeyed comer at his lips. 
The conquering smile wherein his spirit sails 
Calm as the God who the white sea-wave whips, 
Yet full of speech and intershifting tales, 
Close mirrors of us: thence had he the laugh 
We feel is thine: broad as ten thousand beeves 
At pasture! thence thy songs, that winnow chaff 
From grain, bid sick Philosophy's last leaves 
Whirl, if they have no response — they enforced 
To fatten Eaith when from her soul divorced. 

iTh<9e poems aie reprinted by permission of Charles Scribner's Sons, from the voU 
HUMS ol Mr. Meredith's collected poems, copyrighted, 1897. 1898, by George Meredith, 
10X3 by Charles Scribner's Sons. 



3IO THE ENGLISH POETS 

n 

How smiles he at a generation ranked 
In gloomy noddings over life! They pass. 
Not he to feed upon a breast unthanked, 
Or eye a beauteous face in a cracked glass. 
But he can spy that little twist of brain 
Which moved some weighty leader of the blind, 
Unwitting 'twas the goad of personal pain, 
To view in curst eclipse our Mother's mind, 
And show us of some rigid harridan 
The wretched bondmen till the end of time. 
O lived the Master now to paint us Man, 
That little twist of brain would ring a chime 
Of whence it came and what it caused, to start 
Thunders of laughter, clearing air and heart. 

Winter Heavens 

Sharp is the night, but stars with frost alive 

Leap ofif the rim of earth across the dome. 

It is a night to make the heavens our home 

More than the nest whereto apace we strive. 

Lengths down our road each fir-tree seems a hive, 

In swarms outrushing from the golden comb. 

They waken waves of thoughts that burst to foam: 

The living throb in me, the dead revive. 

Yon mantle clothes us; there, past mortal breath, 

Life glistens on the river of the death. 

It folds us, flesh and dust; and have we knelt, 

Or never knelt, or eyed as kine the springs 

Of radiance, the radiance enrings: 

And this is the soul's haven to have felt. 

Dirge in Woods 

A wind sways the pines. 
And below 
Not a breath of wild air; 
Still as the mosses that glow 
On the flooring and over the lines 



GEORGE MEREDITH 311 

Of the roots here and there. 

The pine-tree drops its dead; 

They are quiet, as under the sea. 

Overhead, overhead 

Rushes life in a race, 

As the clouds the clouds chase; 

And we go. 
And we drop like the fruits of the tree, 

Even we, 

Even so. 



The Year's Sheddings 

The varied colours are a fitful heap: 
They pass in constant service though they sleep; 
The self gone out of them, therewith the pain: 
Read that, who still to spell our earth remain. 



Song in the Songless 

They have no song, the sedges dry, 

And still they sing. 
It is within my breast they sing, 

As I pass by. 
Within my breast they touch a string, 

They wake a sigh. 
There is but sound of sedges dry; 

In me they sing. 

Youth in Age 

Once I was part of the music I heard 
On the boughs or sweet between earth and sky. 
For joy of the beating of wings on high 

My heart shot into the breast of the bird. 

I hear it now and I see it fly. 
And a life in wrinkles again is stirred, 
My heart shoots into the breast of the bird, 

As it will for sheer love still the last long sigh. 



312 THE ENGLISH POETS 

France, December, 1870 

I 

We look for her that sunUke stood 
Upon the forehead of our day, 
An orb of nations, radiating food 
For body and for mind alway. 
Where is the Shape of glad array; 
The nervous hands, the front of steel, 
The clarion tongue? Where is the bold proud face? 
We see a vacant place; 
We hear an iron heel. 

u 

O she that made the brave appeal 
For manhood when our time was dark. 
And from our fetters drove the spark 
Which was as lightning to reveal 
New seasons, with the swifter play 
Of pulses, and benigner day; 
She that divinely shook the dead 
From living man; that stretched ahead 
Her resolute forefinger straight, 
And marched toward the gloomy gate 
Of earth's Untried, gave note, and in 
The good name of Humanity 
Called forth the daring vision! she, 
She likewise half corrupt of sin. 
Angel and Wanton! can it be? 
Her star has foimdered in eclipse, 
The shriek of madness on her lips; 
Shreds of her, and no more, we see. 
There is horrible convulsion, smothered din. 
As of one that in a grave-cloth struggles to be free. 

m 

Look not for spreading boughs 

On the riven forest tree. 
Look down where deep in blood and mire 
Black thunder plants his feet and ploughs 



GEORGE MEREDITH 313 

The soil for ruin: that is France: 

Still thriUing like a l3rre, 
Amazed to shivering discord from a fall 
Sudden as that the lurid hosts recall 
Who met in heaven the irreparable mischance. 
O that is France! 

The brilliant eyes to kindle bliss, 

The shrewd quick lips to laugh and kiss, 

Breasts that a sighing world inspire, 

And laughter-dimpled countenance 

Where soul and senses caught desire! 



IV 

Ever invoking fire from heaven, the fire 

Has grasped her, unconsumeable, but framed 

For all the ecstasies of suffering dire. 

Mother of Pride, her sanctuary shamed: 

Mother of Delicacy, and made a mark 

For outrage: Mother of Luxury, stripped stark: 

Mother of Heroes, bondsmen: thro' the rains, 

Across her boundaries, lo the league-long chains! 

Fond Mother of her martial youth; they pass, 

Are spectres in her sight, are mown as grass! 

Mother of Honour, and dishonoured: Mother 

Of Glory, she condemned to crown with bays 

Her victor, and be fountain of his praise. 

Is there another curse? There is another: 

Compassionate her madness: is she not 

Mother of Reason? she that sees them mown 

Like grass, her young ones! Yea, in the low groan 

And imder the fixed thunder of this hour 

Which holds the animate world in one foid blot 

Tranced circumambient while relentless Power 

Beaks at her heart and claws her limbs down- thrown, 

She, with the plunging lightnings overshot, 

With madness for an armour against pain. 

With milkless breasts for little ones athirst. 

And round her all her noblest dying in vain, 

Mother of Reason is she, trebly cursed. 

To feel, to see, to justify the blow; 



314 THE ENGLISH POETS 

Chamber to chamber of her sequent brain 

Gives answer of the cause of her great woe, 

Inexorably echoing thro' the vaults, 

"Tis thus they reap in blood, in blood who sow: 

**This is the sum of self-absolved faults." 

Doubt not that thro' her grief, with sight supreme. 

Thro' her delirium and despair's last dream, 

Thro' pride, thro' bright illusion and the brood 

Bewildering of her various Motherhood, 

The high strong light within her, tho' she bleeds, 

Traces the letters of returned misdeeds. 

She sees what seed long sown, ripened of late. 

Bears this fierce crop; and she discerns her fate 

From origin to agony, and on 

As far as the wave washes long and wan 

Ofif one disastrous impulse: for of waves 

Our life is, and our deeds are pregnant graves 

Blown rolling to the sunset from the dawn. 



Ah, what a dawn of splendour, when her sowers 

Went forth and bent the necks of populations. 

And of their terrors and humiliations 

Wove her the starry wreath that earthward lowers 

Now in the figure of a burning yoke! 

Her legions traversed North and South and East, 

Of triumph they enjoyed the glutton's feast: 

They grafted the green sprig, they lopped the oak. 

They caught by the beard the tempests, by the scalp 

The icy precipices, and clove sheer through 

The heart of horror of the pinnacled Alp, 

Emerging not as men whom mortals knew. 

They were the earthquake and the hurricane. 

The lightnings and the locusts, plagues of blight. 

Plagues of the revel: they were Deluge rain. 

And dreaded Conflagration; lawless Might. 

Death writes a reeling line along the snows. 

Where imder frozen mists they may be tracked, 

Who men and elements provoked to foes, 

And Gods: they were of God and Beast compact: 



GEORGE MEREDITH 315 

Abhorred of all. Yet, how they sucked the teats 

Of Carnage, thirsty issue of their dam. 

Whose eagles, angrier than their oriflamme. 

Flushed the vext earth with blood, green earth forgets. 

The gay young generations mask her grief; 

Where bled her children hangs the loaded sheaf. 

Forgetful is green earth; the Gods alone 

Remember everlastingly: they strike 

Remorselessly, and ever like for like. 

By their great memories the Gods are known. 

VI 

They are with her now, and in her ears, and known. 

'Tis they that cast her to the dust for Strength, 

Their slave, to feed on her fair body's length. 

That once the sweetest and the proudest shone; 

Scoring for hideous dismemberment 

Her limbs, as were the anguish-taking breath 

Gone out of her in the insufferable descent 

From her high chieftainship; as were she death, 

Who hears a voice of justice, feels the knife 

Of torture, drinks all ignominy of life. 

They are with her, and the painful Gods might weep. 

If ever rain of tears came out of heaven 

To flatter Weakness and bid Conscience sleep. 

Viewing the woe of this Immortal, driven 

For the soul's life to drain the maddening cup 

Of her own children's blood implacably: 

Unsparing even as they to furrow up 

The yellow land to likeness of a sea: 

The boimtiful fair land of vine and grain, 

Of wit and grace and ardour, and strong roots, 

Fruits perishable, imperishable fruits; 

Furrowed to likeness of the dim grey main 

Behind the black obliterating cyclone. 

vn 

Behold, the Gods are with her, and are known. 
Whom they abandon misery persecutes 
No more: them half-eyed apathy may loan 



3l6 THE ENGLISH POETS 

The happiness of pitiable brutes. 
Whom the just Gods abandon have no light, 
No ruthless light of introspective eyes 
That in the midst of misery scrutinize 
The heart and its iniquities outright. 
They rest, they smile and rest; have earned perchance 
Of ancient service qiuet for a term; 
Quiet of old men dropping to the worm; 
And so goes out the soul. But not of France. 
She cries for grief, and to the Gods she cries, 
For fearfully their loosened hands chastize, 
And icily they watch the rod's caress 
Ravage her flesh from scourges merciless, 
But she, inveterate of brain, discerns 
That Pity has as little place as Joy 
Among their roll of gifts; for Strength she yearns, 
For Strength, her idol once, too long her toy. 
Lo, Strength is of the plain root-Virtues bom: 
Strength shall ye gain by service, prove in scorn. 
Train by endurance, by devotion shape. 
Strength is not won by miracle or rape. 
It is the oflfspring of the modest years. 
The gift of sire to son, thro* those firm laws 
Which we name Gods; which are the righteous cause, 
The cause of man, and manhood's ministers. 
Could France accept the fables of her priests, 
Who blest her banners in this game of beasts. 
And now bid hope that heaven will intercede 
To violate its laws in her sore need. 
She would find comfort in their opiates: 
Mother of Reason! can she cheat the Fates? 
Would she, the champion of the open mind. 
The Omnipotent's prime gift — the gift of growth- 
Consent even for a night-time to be blind. 
And sink her soul on the delusive sloth. 
For fruits ethereal and material, both. 
In peril of her place among mankind? 
The Mother of the many Laughters might 
Call one poor shade of laughter in the light 
Of her unwavering lamp to mark what things 
The world puts faith in, careless of the truth: 



GEORGE MEREDITH 317 

What silly puppet-bodies danced on strings, 
Attached by credence, we appear in sooth, 
Demanding intercession, direct aid, 
When the whole tragic tale hangs on a broken blade! 

She swung the sword for centuries; in a day 
It slipped her, like a stream cut off from source. 
She struck a feeble hand, and tried to pray, 
Clamoured of treachery, and had recourse 
To drunken outcries in her dream that Force 
Needed but hear her shouting to obey. 
Was she not formed to conquer? The bright plumes 
Of crested vanity shed graceful nods: 
Transcendent in her foundries. Arts and looms. 
Had France to fear the vengeance of the Gods? 
Her faith was on her battle-roll of names 
Sheathed in the records of old war; with dance 
And song she thrilled her warriors and her dames, 
Embracing her Dishonourer: gave him France 
From head to foot, France present and to come. 
So she might hear the trumpet and the drum— 
Bellona and Bacchante! rushing forth 
On yon stout marching Schoolmen of the North. 

Inveterate of brain, well knows she why 
Strength failed her, faithful to himself the first: 
Her dream is done, and she can read the sky. 
And she can take into her heart the worst 
Calamity to drug the shameful thought 
Of days that made her as the man she served, 
A name of terror, but a thing unnerved: 
Buying the trickster, by the trickster bought, 
She for dominion, he to patch a throne. 

VIII 

Henceforth of her the Gods are known, 
Open to them her breast is laid. 
Inveterate of brain, heart-valiant. 

Never did fairer creature pant 

Before the altar and the blade! 



3i8 



THE ENGLISH POETS 



IX 

Swift fall the blows, and men upbraid, 
And friends give echo blunt and cold, 
The echo of the forest to the axe. 
Within her are the fires that wax 
For resurrection from the mould. 



She snatched at heaven's flame of old, 

And kindled nations: she was weak: 
Frail sister of her heroic prototype, 

The Man; for sacrifice unripe, 

She too must fill a Vulture's beak. 

Deride the vanquished, and acclaim 

The conqueror, who stains her fame, 
Still the Gods love her, for that of high aim ^ 
Is this good France, the bleeding thing they stnpe. 

XI 

She shall rise worthier of her prototype 
Thro' her abasement deep; the pain that runs 
From nerve to nerve some victory achieves. 
They lie like circle-strewn soaked Autumn-leaves 
Which stain the forest scarlet, her fair sons! 
And of their death her life is: of their blood 
From many streams now urging to a flood, 
No more divided, France shall rise afresh. 
Of them she learns the lesson of the flesh:— 
The lesson writ in red since first Time ran, 
A hunter hunting down the beast in man: 
That till the chasing out of its last vice, 
The flesh was fashioned but for sacrifice. 

Immortal Mother of a mortal host! 

Thou suffering of the wounds that will not slay, 

Wounds that bring death but take not life away!— 

Stand fast and hearken while thy victors boast: 

Hearken, and loathe that music evermore. 

Slip loose thy garments woven of pride and shame: 

The torture lurks in them, with them the blame 



GEORGE MEREDITH 319 

Shall pass to leave thee purer than before. 
Undo thy jewels, thinking whence they came, 
For what, and of the abominable name 
Of her who in imperial beauty wore. 

O Mother of a fated fleeting host 

Conceived in the past days of sin, and born 

Heirs of disease and arrogance and scorn. 

Surrender, yield the weight of thy great ghost, 

Like wings on air, to what the heavens proclaim 

With trumpets from the multitudinous mounds 

Where peace has filled the hearing of thy sons: 

Albeit a pang of dissolution rounds 

Each new discernment of the undying ones, 

Do thou stoop to these graves here scattered wide 

Along thy fields, as sunless billows roll; 

These ashes have the lesson for the soul. 

"Die to thy Vanity, and strain thy Pride, 

Strip ofif thy Luxury: that thou may'st live. 

Die to thyself," they say, "as we have died 

From dear existence, and the foe forgive. 

Nor pray for aught save in our little space 

To warm good seed to greet the fair earth's face." 

O Mother! take their counsel, and so shall 

The broader world breathe in on this thy home. 

Light clear for thee the counter-changing dome. 

Strength give thee, like an ocean's vast expanse 

Ofif mountain cliffs, the generations all. 

Not whirling in their narrow rings of foam. 

But as a river forward. Soaring France! 

Now is Humanity on trial in thee: 

Now may'st thou gather humankind in fee: 

Now prove that Reason is a quenchless scroll; 

Make of calamity thine aureole, 

And bleeding lead lis thro' the troubles of the sea. 



THE EARL OF LYTTON 

[Edward Robert Bulwer-Lytton, first Earl of Lytton, son of the 
well-known Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton, first Baron. Born 1834; educated 
at Harrow and Bonn; married 1864 Edith, eldest daughter of the Hon. 
Edward Villiers; died suddenly in Paris, 1891. From 1862 onwards he 
held many diplomatic appointments; was Viceroy of India 1876, and 
Ambassador in Paris from 1887 till his death. Published in 1855 Clyiem- 
nestra and other Poems (this and some other volumes under the name 
"Owen Meredith"); 1857, The Wanderer; at intervals, Lucile, Fables in 
Songy King Poppy, and in 1885 Glenaveril, in two volumes.] 

The first Earl of Lytton is an example of a combination rare in 
modern times — that of the politician, diplomatist, and adminis- 
trator with the poet and man of letters. Such combinations were 
common three centuries ago, but in our day union of such different 
functions is apt to make people sceptical as to a man's fitness for 
either. So, as Lord Lytton's daughter. Lady Betty Balfour, points 
out in her introduction to a selection from his poems, when he was 
made Viceroy of India some critics doubted whether a poet could 
govern, and others doubted whether a ruler could be a good poet. 
We are not here called upon to declare for or against his success as 
administrator and ambassador; our concern is with his poetry alone. 
It is true, however, as his daughter remarks, that the circumstances 
of his career were in some respects against him as a poet. It is 
not easy for an exile to keep in touch with his home audience; if 
he is a man of books, books come more and more to be his substitute 
for the realities of life, as they, and meditation upon them, certainly 
did in Lord Lytton*s case. Hence his later poems, and especially 
the too long Glenaveril, had far less success than those volumes 
which "Owen Meredith" had published twenty or thirty years 
before. But faulty as they were, these later works contained many 
memorable lines, and they were, what the early works had not 
always been, original. 

Here we touch upon the objection which used to be commonly 
laid against the volumes previous to Fables in Song, Mrs. Brown- 
ing, in a letter to the author, wrote, "You sympathise too much"; 



THE EARL OF LYTTON 32I 

meaning thereby that he thought and wrote as others had done 
before him. Indeed, he depended too largely in these days upon 
George Sand, Victor Hugo, Browning, and many others; and 
what shall we say of a modem poet who could borrow the best- 
known line of Marlowe and make Aegisthus cry out to Cljrtem- 
nestra, 

'' Make me immortal with one costly kiss " ? 

But this fault he soon outgrew, and all the poems of middle and 
later life are free from it. 

Had our space permitted, we should have included in our 
selection a poem which throws a rather sad light upon the poet- 
statesman's view of the two careers between which his life had 
been divided. This poem, The Prisoner of Provence j is an adapta- 
tion of the story of The Man in the Iron Mask to Lord Lytton's 
own case; and, written as it was a few weeks before his death, 
it seems to show that he valued the outward glory of State posi- 
tions as but little in comparison with what had been denied him — 
acceptance as a distinguished poet at the hands of the experts first, 
and afterwards of the reading public throughout the empire. 

Editor. 

[From The Wanderer] 
The Portrait 



Midnight past! Not a sound of aught 

Thro' the silent house, but the wind at his prayers. 
I sat by the dying fire, and thought 

Of the dear dead woman upstairs. 

n 
A night of tears! for the gusty rain 

Had ceased, but the eaves dripping yet; 
And the moon look'd forth, as tho' in pain. 

With her face all white and wet: 

in 
Nobody with me, my watch to keep. 

But the friend of my bosom, the man I love: 
And grief had sent him fast to sleep 

In the chamber up above. 



322 TEE ENGLISH POETS 

IV 

Nobody else, in the country place 
All round, that knew of my loss beside, 

But the good youQg Priest with the Raphael-face 
Who confessed her when she died. 



That good young Priest is of gentle nerve. 
And my grief had moved him beyond control; 

For his lip grew white, as I could observe, 
When he speeded her parting soul. 

VI 

I sat by the dreary hearth alone: 
I thought of the pleasant days of yore: 

I said "the staff of my life is gone: 
The woman I love is no more. 

vn 

" Gem-clasped on her bosom my portrait lies. 
Which next to her heart she used to wear — 

It is steeped in the light of her loving eyes, 
And the sweets of her bosom and hair." 

vin 

And I said— "the thing is precious to me: 
They will bury her soon in the churchyard clay: 

It lies on her heart, and lost must be. 
If I do not take it away." 

IX 

I lighted my lanip at the dying flame. 
And crept up the stairs that creak 'd for fright, 

Till into the chamber of death I came. 
Where she lay all in white. 

X 

The moon shone over her winding sheet. 

There, stark she lay on her carven bed: 
Seven burning tapers about her feet. 

And seven about her head. 



THE EARL OF LYTTON 323 

XI 

As I stretched my hand, I held my breath; 

I turn'd, as I drew the curtains apart: 
I dared not look on the face of death: 

I knew where to find her heart. 

xn 

I thought, at first, as my touch fell there, 
It had warmed that heart to life, with love; 

For the thing I touch'd was warm, I swear, 
And I could feel it move. 

xin 

Twas the hand of a man, that was moving slow 
O'er the heart of the dead, — from the other side; 

And at once the sweat broke over my brow, 
"Who is robbing the corpse?" I cried. 

XIV 

Opposite me, by the tapers' light, 
The friend of my bosom, the man I loved, 

Stood over the corpse, and all as white, 
And neither of us moved. 

XV 

"What do you here, my friend?" . . . The man 
Look'd first at me, and then at the dead. 

"There is a portrait here . . ." he began; 
"There is. It is mine," I said.. 

XVI 

Said the friend of my bosom, "Yours, no doubt, 

The portrait was, till a month ago, 
When this suffering angel took that out. 

And placed mine there, I know." 

xvn 

"This woman, she loved me well," said I. 

"A month ago," said my friend to me: 
"And in your throat," I groan'd, "you lie!" 

He answered . . . "Let us see." 



324 THE ENGLISH POETS 

xvin 

"Enough!" I returned,- "let the dead decide: 
And whose-soever the portrait prove, 

His shall it be, when the cause is tried, 
Where Death is arraigned by Love." 

XIX 

We found the portrait, there in its place: 
We open'd it by the tapers' shine: 

The gems were all unchanged: the face 
Was — ^neither his nor mine. 

XX 

"One nail drives out another, at least! 

The portrait is not ours," I cried, 
"But our friend's, the Raphael-faced young Priest, 

Who confessed her when she died." 



Spring and Winter 

I 

Was it well in him, if he 

Felt not love, to speak of love so? 
If he still unmoved must be, 

Was it nobly sought to move so? 
Pluck the flower, but not to wear it- 
Spurn it from him, yet not spare it? 

n 

Need he say that I was fair, 
With such meaning in his tone. 

Adding ever that her hair 
Had the same tinge as my own? 

Pluck my life up, root and bloom, 

To make garlands for her tomb! 



THE EARL OF LYTTON 325 

m 

And, her cheek, he said; tho' bright. 

Lacked the lucid blush divine 
Of that rose each whisper light 

Of his praises waked in mine; 
But 'twas just that he loved then 
More than he can love again. 

IV 

Then, if beauty could not bind him, 

Wherefore praise me, speaking low? 
Use my face just to remind him 

How no face could please him now? 
Why, if loving could not move him, 
Did he teach me still to love him? 



"Yes!" he said, "he had grown wise now: 

He had suffered much of yore: 
But a fair face, to his eyes now. 

Was a fair face, and no more. 
Yet the anguish and the bHss, 
And the dream too, had been his." 

VI 

Ah, those words a thought too tender 
For the commonplaces spoken! 

Looks whose meaning seem'd to render 
Help to words when speech came broken! 

Why so late in July moonlight 

Just to say what 's said by noonlight? 

vn 

And why praise my youth for gladness, 
Keeping something in his smile 

That changed all my youth to sadness. 
He still smiling all the while? 

Since, when so my youth was over. 

He said "Seek some younger lover!" 



^326 THE ENGLISH POETS 

vm 

Well, the Spring 's back now! the thrushes 

Are astir as heretofore, 
And the apple-blossom blushes 

As of old about the door. 
Doth he taste a finer bliss, 
I must wonder, in all this. 



IX 

(Winning thus what I have lost) 
By the usage of my youth? 

I can feel my forehead crost 
By the wrinkle's fretful tooth, 

While the grey grows in my hair, 

And the cold creeps everywhere. 



Athens 

(i86s) 

[From After Paradise] 

The burnt-out heart of Hellas here behold! 

Quench 'd fire-pit of the quick explosive Past, 
Thought's highest crater — all its fervours cold, 
Ashes and dust at last! 

And what Hellenic light is living now 

To gild, not Greece, but other lands, is given: 
Not where the splendour sank, the after-glow 
Of sunset stays in heaven. 

But loud o'er Grecian ruins still the lark 
Doth, as of old, H)rperion's glory hail. 
And from Hymettus, in the moonlight, hark 
The exuberant nightingale! 



THE EARL OF LYTTON 327 



Andromeda 
I 

The monster that with menace guarded thee 
Rock-bound, unhappy one, at last is slain; 

And thy long-prisoned loveliness set free 
From the chill torment of its cruel chain. 

For what, then, do those wistful gazes wait? 
And why art thou still lingering there alone, 

In fruitless freedom, so disconsolate? 
Perseus is gone! 



Heroic men, 'tis yours to dare and do. 

Heroic women, yours the harder lot. 
To wait and suffer. The years come and go. 

Deliverance tarries. You can seek it not. 
And if, when come at last, it comes too late? 

Forlorn Andromeda, thy chains undone 
Have freed thy life for what uncertain fate? 
Perseus is gone! 



WILLIAM MORRIS 

[William Morris was bom at Elm House, Walthamstow, in 1834, 
went to school at Marlborough, and proceeded from it to Exeter College, 
Oxford. On taking his degree he became an articled pupil of G. E. Street, 
the architect, but quitted his office before long in order to devote himself 
to painting, designing, and decoration, as well as to poetry. His first 
published poems appeared in the Oxford and Cambridge Magazine, 
founded and carried on by him and a group of his friends, in 1856; and, 
his first published volume. The Defence of Guenevere, and other Poems, 
in 1858. For some years afterwards he was chiefly occupied with the 
work which developed round the firm of Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & 
Co. (afterwards Morris & Co.), manufacturers and decorators. In 1865 
he returned to London from the house he had built and furnished for 
himself in Kent, and resumed the writing of poetry. The Life and Death 
of Jason appeared in 1867, and The Earthly Paradise in 1 868-1870. Dur- 
ing these years he had learned Icelandic, and translated a number of the 
Sagas In 1 87 1 he became tenant of Kelmscott Manor House, Lechlade, 
which remained his country home for the rest of his life, though he chiefly 
lived and worked in London. Love is Enough was published in 1872 and 
Sigurd the Volsung and the Fall of the Nihlmigs in 1876. In 1877 he de- 
clined to accept nomination for the Professorship of Poetry at Oxford; 
about this time his political activity began, at first as an advanced Radi- 
cal, gradually developing into the active Socialism of his later years. On 
January 13, 1883, he was elected an Honorary Fellow of Exeter and en- 
rolled himself as a member of the Social Democratic Federation. From 
that time forward the chief among his multifarious occupations were, 
designing for and carrying on the business of his firm, organizing and 
working on behalf of the Socialist movement, lecturing and writing on 
art and social questions, writing prose romances, and carrying on the 
work of the famous Kelmscott Press, started by him in 189 1. In this 
last year he brought out, as the second volume printed at that press, a 
selection of his own unpublished poems under the title of Poems by the 
Way. Among his poetical works should also be mentioned his verse 
translations of WirgiVs Aeneid (1875) and Homer's Odyssey (1887). He 
died at Kelmscott House, Hammersmith, in October, 1896.] 



WILLIAM MORRIS 32Q 



Of all the great English poets, William Morris is the one whom 
it is least possible to consider or to appreciate as a poet alone. To 
him, poetry was not an isolated art. It was the application to the 
material of rhythmical language of the constructive and decorative 
principles common to all arts. And art itself — of which all the 
particular arts were the applications to one or another material- 
was not an isolated thing. It was simply the visible or audible re- 
corded expression of the joy of life, "production," as Aristotle had 
defined it long before, "with pleasure and for the sake of pleasure." 
His weU-known sayings that "talk of inspiration is sheer nonsense, 
it is a mere matter of craftsmanship," and that, in terms still more 
concrete and vivid, "if a chap can't compose an epic while he *s 
weaving tapestry, he had better shut up," express his considered 
doctrine, and also his consistent practice. He handled the art of 
poetrj' as he handled the arts of weaving or dyeing or printing, the 
production of household furniture or wall-decoration; all were 
pleasurable production meant for pleasurable use. Hence while 
it remains true that his poetry, like that of others, has to be esti- 
mated simply as poetry, it will convey its full meaning only to 
those who realize what he meant it to be, what place he meant it 
to occupy in a scheme of human h'fe. It would be beside the point 
here to enlarge on the manifold scope of his activities, or on the 
influence which in many ways they exercised, and still exercise, 
on civilization. But neither must this be forgotten; for otherwise 
we should, by treating his poetry as a detached thing, miss its 
structural import and part of its individual quality. That he 
came to be known as "the author of The Earthly Paradise" is 
more than a happy accident. For the creation of an earthly para- 
dise in a perfectly literal sense of the words, of an actual world 
in which beauty and joy should be incorporated with daily life 
and be of the essence of all productive activity, was the object 
which he pursued throughout; and his own divergent activities 
were all threaded from that one centre. 

This way of regarding and handling poetry began in him as an 
instinct, and gradually wrought itself out into a settled doctrine. 
In his earlier poetry it is only latent. His first volume represents 
the last outcome of the Romantic movement, and its linking up 
with the mediaeval tradition through a new imaginative insight 
into history. It had been foreshadowed by Keats in poems like the 
Eve of Si, Mark and La Belk Dame Sans Merci, and was intimately 
connected with the Pre-Raphaelite movement and the potent in- 



330 THE ENGLISH POETS 

fluence, alike in poetry and painting, of Rossetti. The Defence of 
Guenevere, like the Lyrical Ballads of sixty years before, attracted 
little immediate attention, but, like them, was a germinal force of 
incalculable vitality. Technically the poems in this volume are 
uncertain in handling, immature, full of the crude sap of youth. 
But they were the symbol of the new era and the manifestation 
of a new poet. " Where," in Swinburne's just words, "among other 
and older poets of his time and country, is one comparable for 
perception and experience of tragic truth, of subtle and noble, 
terrible and piteous things? where a touch of passion at once so 
broad and so sure? " The chord of imaginative beauty sounded 
by three typical pieces, King Arthur's Tomb, The Haystack in the 
Floods, Summer Dawn, is something which stands by itself and 
alone. Arthurian romance and the early Middle Ages, Chaucer 
and Froissart and the full expansion of the fourteenth century, 
are recaptured and brought into vital connexion with the beauty 
and wonder of the actual world as these took shape in a fresh and 
wholly original and underivative imagination. Perhaps now, 
after sixty more years have passed, these poems appeal to new 
minds with even enhanced poignancy. They have never been 
widely popular; the fashion they set, the school they formed, are 
negligible. Their eflFect has been over poetry itself, in a way at 
once more intimate and more profound. 

To this early germinal period of romantic exploration succeeded, 
after an interval of nearly ten years, the middle period of trained 
and deliberate craftsmanship. This is represented by the Life and 
Death of Jason and The Earthly Paradise, English poetry in the 
early sbcties had come to a point of uncertainty and partial stagna- 
tion. Swinburne's Atalanta in Calydon (1864), Morris's Jason 
(1867), and Rossetti's Poems (1870) mark the emergence of fresh 
forces which poured new life into it and gave it a fresh orientation. 
All three won immediate and wide recognition. 

In Jason, the Chaucerian element in the mixed impulse of 
Morris's earlier volume becomes predominant. Here he developed 
his full gift as a story-teller, a gift rare among poets, and absent or 
inconspicuous in many of the greatest. Constructional power, 
sense of design, and the application to design of rich continuous 
ornament had now all been mastered. The long narrative-poem— 
a form in which English poetry had but little of the first rank to 
show, and which had succumbed to the idyllic treatment of 
episodes— was reinstated. But in Jason Morris also re-established 



WILLIAM MORRIS 331 

that connexion with the Middle Ages which had been broken by 
the Elizabethans and since then, in the main, lost. Its whole 
atmosphere is mediaeval, in the sense of its resuming the mediaeval 
structure and colour, and applying them to a classical story. 

"—Rede haue I 
Of Gawen and Sir Guy, 
And tell can a great pece 
Of the Golden Flece, 
How Jason it wan 
Lyke a valyaunt man." 

Yet it is essentially new and modem; the synthesis of the classical 
and the romantic past is vitalized by an original genius, in advance 
of rather than behind its own age. It likewise reinstated the ten- 
syllabled rhyming couplet — to all intents and purposes Chaucer's 
invention — in its old flexibility and fluency. Keats in Lamia, 
SheDey in Epipsychidion — to some degree, in an odd way of his 
own, Browning also in SordeUo — had made tentative approaches to 
this; but its accomplishment was effected by Morris alone; nor, 
though he has had many imitators, did he transmit the secret to any 
successor. 

In The Earthly Paradise this vital synthesis was carried farther. 
Few, perhaps, of its readers go beyond reading it as a mere series 
of stories; and in these they find a certain sameness, some languor 
of movement, even a cloying repetition of ornament. But the 
twenty-five stories were designed, and should be thought of, as large 
decorative panels in a single design, to which the setting gives 
at once the clue and the justification. That whole design is so 
huge in scale — some 42,000 lines in all — and so intricate as well as 
skilful in its construction, that it does not arrest notice when one is 
in close contact with it. Like one of those French Gothic cathe- 
drals which Morris ranked among the highest products of human 
genius, the whole is partly ignored, partly taken for granted, by 
those who fix their attention on successive details. The subordina- 
tion of the parts to the whole, the calculated repetitions as of arch 
and column and window, are only appreciated when we realize that 
they are exactly what the artist meant. The principle of "sheer 
craftsmanship" in poetry is here carried to its full stretch. The 
stories unroll themselves fluently and equably over large spaces in 
which the poetry is deliberately diffused and not concentrated. 
The pattern is large, and consists largely of background, in which 



332 THE ENGLISH POETS 

the detail is treated accordingly. It even passes sometimes into 
what corresponds to a diapered pattern. The rose-garden or apple- 
orchard, the "brown bird" which recurs in The Earthly Paradise 
almost to satiety, are a considered convention for narrative orna- 
ment. For this reason, extracts or specimens give little idea of 
the whole structure. It is a sort of work that does not lend itself 
to detached quotation; it has few purple patches, few memorable 
single lines. Such there are, but they are mostly to be found in the 
more highly -wrought interludes of the setting, or in the interposed 
lyrics through which the large equable flow of the narrative is 
gathered up, as it were, to a greater tension. One result is a certain 
sense of superflux, even of monotony; another is that Morris never, 
as very good poets often do, "preaches over his Uquor." 

In The Earthly Paradise the reconquest of Chaucer's ten- 
syUabled couplet already effected in Jason is accompanied by a 
similar reconquest of the other two Chaucerian narrative-metres, 
the eight-syllabled couplet and the rhyme-royal. All three are 
handled on a large scale, and with complete success. In these 
forms, Morris felt that he had now done what he could do; and he 
set himself to fresh explorations farther afield. The " morality " of 
Love is Enough, which was the first important result of these new 
experiments, is probably the least popular of his larger works, as it 
is the most difficult; and it must be added that the labour shows in 
it, as well as the result of the labour. He was here trying to revive 
and readapt not only an obsolete dramatic form, but a rhythmical 
structure to which Chaucer himself had given the death-blow. 
The native English verse based on stress and alliteration had been 
decisively displaced by the rhyming syllabic metres of France. But 
it has always subsisted under the surface, and in the hands of an 
experimenter of native English genius is almost bound to reappear. 
To this experiment Morris applied great skill and patience. But it 
suffers from being too obviously experimental, and too elaborate in 
its constructional artifice. This, as in some of his latest and possi- 
bly finest designs in decorated fabrics (the "chintzes" which for 
many years drew, from critics as superficial as they were super- 
cilious, sneers at a "poet-upholsterer"), is carried a little farther 
than can make effective appeal to any one but an expert craftsman. 
For such. Love is Enough will always be a work of extreme interest 
and suggestiveness. But that is not, according to Morris's own 
doctrine, or indeed according to any tenable conception, the real 
function of poetry. 



WILLIAM MORRIS 333 



In Sigurd the Volsungy not long afterwards, he broke fresh 
ground alike in subject and in treatment. It is his last large work 
in poetry, and though it was not, and is not, the most popular, it is 
probably, and certainly was in his own judgment, the greatest. 
In it he passed from romance, to which, with one notable exception, 
his previous work belongs, to the amplitude, height, and tension of 
epic. The effect on him of the Icelandic Sagas, as soon as he came 
to know them, was inmiense and in some sense revolutionary. It 
transformed the romantic dream-world, a decoration hung, as it 
were, for joy and solace on the background of h'fe, into an actual 
world more wonderful in its vastness and tragic issues than any 
world of imaginary beauty. The "earthly paradise" has taken a 
new meaning. The song of the Hesperides in Jason had incarnated 
the romantic spirit in the lines: 

"Let earth and heaven go on their way 
While still we watch from day to day, 
In this green place left all alone, 
A remnant of the days long gone." 

And in the introductory verses to The Earthly Paradise he 
speaks of himself as striving "to build a shadowy isle of bliss" 
with "idle verses." The world of the epic is neither shadowy 
nor idle. 

This transforming influence first shows itself in the Earthly 
Paradise itself. The Lovers of Gudrun is in a wholly different key 
from the rest of the stories. A close rendering, in its substance, of 
the prose Laxdaela-saga, it has a new poetic vitality and nobility: 
it is the central point of Morris's poetry. The expansion of this 
movement in Sigurd took the form of a fresh epic rendering of the 
Volsunga-saga, the story of the North which stands alongside of 
the story of Troy as one of the two. great epic subjects of the world. 
For the reshaping of this story Morris adopted a metrical form 
which until then had only been used in EngUsh on a small scale, 
the six-beat rhymed couplet, in long lines with free syncopation, 
and a marked caesura or break of rhythm in the middle of each 
line. It corresponds, in his handling, more nearly than any other 
£ngh'sh measure to the effective value of the Homeric hexameter; 
and makes Sigurd, in this respect as well as in others, the most 
Homeric poem since Homer. The opening line, "There was a 
dwelling of kings ere the world was waxen old," strikes the new 
note at once with complete certainty. Very often, in lines like 



334 



THE ENGLISH POETS 



"And so when the deed is ready, nowise the man shall lack, 
But the wary foot is the surest, and the hasty oft turns back," 
or 

"How then in the gates of Valhall shall the door of the gleaming ring 
Clash to on the heel of Sigurd, as I follow on my king?" 

it rises with eflFortless ease, and without any sense of imitation, into 
the authentic and unsiupassable Homeric tone. 

The constructional quality of Morris's genius, in so far as it was 
not hampered by loyalty to the exact scope and lines of a Saga 
which had not wholly purged itself from barbarism, here reaches 
its cbmax. After Sigurd, his poetry shows, amid many fresh ex- 
periments and with a continued refinement of beauty, a reversion 
towards romance, and a renewal, in a new manner and on a differ- 
ent class of subject, of the lyrical impulse. This had always been 
one strand in the complex fabric of his main production. The 
lyrics in Jason and The Earthly Paradise, beyond their effect in 
accentuation of the narrative, are, like the intercalated lyrics in 
Tennyson's Princess, substantive poems. Love is Enough is a 
lyrical fabric wrought by extreme artifice into a dramatic frame- 
work. In Sigurd the two elements wholly coalesce, and the lyrical 
quality tells throughout, not by any sharp division, but by the 
varjdng scale of emotional tension. In subsequent work he re- 
sumes the pure lyric, often incorporated with the ballad structure. 
Some of the later pieces collected in Poems by the Way are Morris's 
last, and in one view even his supreme poetical achievement. For 
here, as in Shakespeare's romances, we reach a final simplicity, not 
the innocent simplicity of youth, but that of an accomplished art 
which, after its labours, relaxes itself in work which, to it, is play, 
and in which the decoration and the substance which it decorates 
become one and the same thing. 

Comparisons between one poet and another are generally futile. 
In Morris's poetry we may be content to mark its actual notes of 
simplicity and sincerity, melodiousness and copiousness, and, after 
he had "found himself," a growing and fundamental sanity. His 
own straightforward simplicity reflects itself in the clarity of verse 
in which the expression is never involved, the meaning never in 
doubt. What are called his mannerisms were his natural and 
instinctive way of expressing himself. His melodiousness, as dis- 
tinct from more complex harmonies, is unfailing and perhaps im- 
surpassed. His copiousness, perhaps excessive, came of the joy of a 



WILLIAM MORRIS 335 



craftsman in pouring out the products of his craft. The quality of 
his poetry varies, not as in Wordsworth according to the degree of 
"inspiration" that vitalizes patterns of language in which the 
craftsman's touch is fumbling, but rather according to the sub- 
stantive value of the thought or incident or emotion upon which, 
whatever it be, he expends the same gift of capable workmanship. 
As it advances, his poetry passes from broken gleams and a be- 
wildered questioning into a serious interpretation of life. In the 
earlier work, the obsession of death is a constant background; 
gradually this is swallowed up in a mastering sense of the won- 
derfulness of life. The turning-point is vividly indicated in that 
stanza of "apology" which ends with the single line that beyond all 
others of his has passed into universal currency. 

"Of Heaven or Hell I have no power to sing, 
I cannot ease the burden of your fears, 
Or make quick-coming death a little thing, 
Or bring again the pleasure of past years, 
Nor for my words shall ye forget your tears, 
Or hope again for aught that I can say, 
The idle singer of an empty day." 

It is an estimate, a criticism, of all his own poetry up till then. The 
whole "message" (if such a word can be used) of his poetry there- 
after, as of his work in other fields than poetry, was the exact 
converse: to show how this world is heaven or hell; to ease its 
burden by teaching men not to fear shadows; to make death merge 
in the splendour of life; to bring back pleasure to an age that had 
lost or forgotten it; and to give the world the courage of a new 
hope. 

This was his work, whether it took shape in lyric or romance or 
epic, in refashioning of old tales or re-embodying of primary 
emotions, in a ballad of the greenwood or a vignette of landscape 
or a chant for Socialists: this was what he would have claimed as 
his title to remembrance, rather than that he had given to the 
English world a body of poetry which combines the pellucidity of 
Chaucer with the fluent richness of Ariosto. 

J. W. Mackail. 



336 THE ENGLISH POETS 

I. From The Oxford and Cambridge Magazine 
The Hollow Land 

Christ keep the Hollow Land 

All the summer-tide; 
Still we cannot understand 

Where the waters glide; 

Only dimly seeing them 

Coldly slipping through 
Many green-Iipp'd cavern mouths, 

Where the hills are blue. 

Summer Dawn 

Pray but one prayer for me *twixt thy closed lips, 

Think but one thought of me up in the stars. 
The summer night waneth, the morning light slips, 

Faint and grey 'twixt the leaves of the aspen, betwixt the 
doud-bars, 
That are patiently waiting there for the dawn: 

Patient and colorless, through Heaven's gold 
Waits to float through them along with the sun. 
Far out in the meadows, above the young corn. 

The heavy elms wait, and restless and cold 
The uneasy wind rises; the roses are dun; 
Through the long twilight they pray for the dawn, 
Round the lone house in the midst of the corn. 

Speak but one word to me over the corn, 

Over the tender, bow'd locks of the corn. 

II. From The Defence of Guenevere 

Launcelot and Guenevere 

[From King Arthur's Tomb] 

"Remember too, 
Wrung heart, how first before the knights there came 
A royal bier, hung round with green and blue. 
About it shone great tapers with sick flame. 



WILLIAM MORRIS 337 



*'And thereupon Lucius, the Emperor, 
Lay royal-robed, but stone-cold now and dead, 

Not able to hold sword or sceptre more. 
But not quite grim; because his cloven head 

"Bore no marks now of Launcelot's bitter sword, 
Being by embalmers deftly solder'd up; 

So still it seem'd the face of a great lord, 
Being mended as a craftsman mends a cup. 

"Also the heralds sirng rejoicingly 
To their long trumpets, * Fallen under shield, 

Here lieth Lucius, King of Italy, 
Slain by Lord Launcelot in open field.' 

"Thereat the people shouted 'Launcelot!' 
And through the spears I saw you drawing nigh. 

You and Lord Arthur — nay, I saw you not, 
But rather Arthur, God would not let die, 

"I hoped, these many years, he should grow great, 
And in his great arms still encircle me. 

Kissing my face, half-blinded with the heat 
Of king's love for the queen I used to be. 

"Launcelot, Launcelot, why did he take your hand. 
When he had kissed me in his kingly way? 

Saying, *This is the knight whom all the land 
Calls Arthur's banner, sword, and shield to-day; 

"'Cherish him, love.' Why did your long lips cleave 
In such strange way imto my fingers then? 

So eagerly glad to kiss, so loath to leave 
When you rose up? Why among helmed men 

"Could I always tell you by your long strong arms, 
And sway like an angel's in your saddle there? 

Why sickeh'd I so often with alarms 
Over the tilt-yard? Why were you more fair 

"Than aspens in the autumn at their best? 

Why did you Ml all lands with your great fame. 
So that Breuse even, as he rode, fear'd lest 

At turning of the way your shield should flame? " 



338 THE ENGLISH POETS 



Ladies' Gard 
[From Golden Wings] 

Midways of a walled garden, 

In the happy poplar land, 

Did an ancient castle stand, 
With an old knight for a warden. 

Many scarlet bricks there were 

In its walls, and old grey stone; 

Over which red apples shone 
At the right time of the year. 

On the bricks the green moss grew, 

Yellow lichen on the stone. 

Over which red apples shone; 
Little war that castle knew. 

Deep green water filled the moat. 

Each side had a red-brick lip, 

Green and mossy with the drip 
Of dew and rain; there was a boat 

Of carven wood, with hangings green 
About the stem; it was great bliss 
For lovers to sit there and kiss 

In the hot summer noons, not seen. 

Across the moat the fresh west wind 

In very little ripples went; 

The way the heavy aspens bent 
Towards it was a thing to mind. 

The painted drawbridge over it 
Went up and down with gilded chains, 
'Twas pleasant in the summer rains 

Within the bridge-house there to sit. 

There were five swans that ne'er did eat 
The water-weeds, for ladies tame 
Each day, and young knights did the same, 

And gave them cakes and bread for meat. 



WILLIAM MORRIS 339 



Tbey had a bouse of painted wood, 
A red roof gold-spiked over it, 
Wherein upon their eggs to sit 

Week after week; no drop of blood, 

Drawn from men's bodies by sword-blows, 
Came ever there, or any tear; 
Most certainly from year to year 

Twas pleasant as a Provence rose. 



III. From The Life and Death of Jason 
A Sweet Song Sung not yet to any Man 

I know a little garden close 
Set thick with lily and red rose, 
Where I would wander if I might 
From dewy dawn to dewy night, 
And have one with me wandering. 

And though within it no birds sing, 
And though no pillared house is there, 
And though the apple boughs are bare 
Of fruit and blossom, would to God 
Her feet upon the green grass trod. 
And I beheld them as before. 

There comes a murmur from the shore, 
And in the place two fair streams are. 
Drawn from the purple hills afar, 
Drawn down unto the restless sea; 
The hnis whose flowers ne'er fed the bee. 
The shore no ship has ever seen, 
Still beaten by the billows green, 
Whose murmur comes unceasingly 
Unto the place for which I cry. 

For which I cry both day and night. 
For which I let slip all delight, 
That maketh me both deaf and blind, 
Careless to win, unskilled to find, 
And quick to lose what all men seek. 

Yet tottering as I am, and weak. 



340 THE ENGLISH POETS 

Still have I left a little breath 

To seek within the jaws of death 

An entrance to that happy place, 

To seek the unforgotten face 

Once seen, once kissed, once reft from me 

Anigh the murmuring of the sea. 



Orpheus Sings to the Argonauts 

death, that maketh life so sweet, 
O fear, with mirth before thy feet, 
What have ye yet in store for us, 
The conquerors, the glorious? 

Men say: "For fear that thou shouldst die 
To-morrow, let to-day pass by 
Flower-crowned and singing;" yet have we 
Passed our to-day upon the sea, 
Or in a poisonous unknown land, 
With fear and death on either hand, 
And listless when the day was done 
Have scarcely hoped to see the sun 
Dawn on the morrow of the earth, 
Nor in our hearts have thought of mirth. 
And while the world lasts, scarce again 
Shall any sons of men bear pain 
Like we have borne, yet be alive. 

So surely not in vain we strive 
Like other men for our reward; 
Sweet peace and deep, the chequered sward 
Beneath the ancient mulberry-trees, 
The smooth-paved gilded palaces, 
Where the shy thin-clad damsels sweet 
Make music with their gold-ringed feet. 
The fountain court amidst of it. 
Where the short-haired slave maidens sit. 
While on the veined pavement lie 
The honied things and spicery 
Their arms have borne from out the town. 

The dancers on the thymy down 



WILLIAM MORRIS 341 



In summer twilight, when the earth 
Is still of all things but their mirth, 
And echoes borne upon the wind 
Of others in like way entwined. 

The merchant town's fair market-place 
Where over many a changing face 
The pigeons of the temple flit, 
And still the outland merchants sit 
Like kings above their merchandise, 
Lying to foolish men and wise. 

Ah! if they heard that we were come 
Into the bay, and bringing home 
That which all men have talked about, 
Some men with rage, and some with doubt, 
Some with desire, and some with praise; 
Then would the people throng the ways, 
Nor heed the outland merchandise. 
Nor any talk, from fools or wise, 
But tales of our accomplished quest. 

What soul within the house shall rest 
When we come home? The wily king 
Shall leave his throne to see the thing; 
No man shall keep the landward gate, 
The hurried traveller shall wait 
Until our bulwarks graze the quay, 
Unslain the milk-white bull shall be 
Beside the quivering altar-flame; 
Scarce shall the maiden clasp for shame 
Over her breast the raiment thin 
The mom that Argo cometh in. 

Then cometh happy life again 
That prayeth well our toil and pain 
In that sweet hour, when all our woe 
But as a pensive tale we know. 
Nor yet remember deadly fear; 
For surely now if death be near, 
Unth(5ught-of is it, and unseen 
When sweet is, that hath bitter been. 



342 THE ENGLISH POETS 



The Song of the Hesperides 

O ye, who to this place have strayed, 
That never for man's eyes was made, 
Depart in haste, as ye have come. 
And bear back to your sea-beat home 
This memory of the age of gold. 
And for your eyes, grown over-bold, 
Your hearts shall pay in sorrowing, 
For want of many a half-seen thing. 

Lo, such as is this garden green, 
In days past, all the world has been. 
And what we know all people knew. 
Save this, that unto worse all grew. 

But since the golden age is gone. 
This little place is left alone, 
Unchanged, unchanging, watched of us. 
The daughters of wise Hesperus. 

Surely the heavenly Messenger 
Full oft is fain to enter here. 
And yet without must he abide; 
Nor longeth less the dark king's bride 
To set red lips unto that fruit 
That erst made nought her mother's suit. 
Here would Diana rest awhile, 
Forgetful of her woodland guile. 
Among these beasts that fear her nought. 
Nor is it less in Pallas' thought. 
Beneath our trees to ponder o'er 
The wide, unfathomed sea of lore; 
And oft-kissed Citheraea, no less 
Weary of love, full fain would press 
These flowers with unsandalled feet. 

But unto us our rest is sweet, 
Neither shall any man or God 
Or lovely Goddess touch the sod 
Whereunder old times buried lie, 



WILUAM MORRIS 343 



Before the world knew misery. 
Nor will we have a slave or king, 
Nor yet will we learn anything 
But that we know, that makes us glad; 
While oft the very Gods are sad 
With knowing what the Fates shall do. 

Neither from us shall wisdom go 
To fill the hungering hearts of men. 
Lest to them threescore years and ten 
Come but to seem a little day, 
Once given, and taken soon away. 
Nay, rather let them find their life 
Bitter and sweet, fulfilled of strife, 
Restless with hope, vain with regret. 
Trembling with fear, most strangely set 
'Twixt memory and forgetfulness; 
So more shall joy be, troubles less, 
And surely when all this is past. 
They shall not want their rest at last. 

Let earth and heaven go on their way, 
While still we watch from day to day, 
In this green place left all alone, 
A remnant of the days long gone. 



Medea at CoRmrs 

She ceased, and moaning to herself she said: — 
"Ah! when will all be ended? If the dead 
Have unto them some little memory left 
Of things that while they lived Fate from them reft. 
Ere life itself was reft from them at last. 
Yet would to God these days at least were past, 
And all be done that here must needs be done! 

"Ah! shall I, living underneath the sun, 
I wonder, wish for anything again. 
Or ever know what pleasure means, and pain? — 
— And for these deeds I do; and thou the first, 
O woman, whose young beauty has so cursed 
My hapless life, at least I save thee this — 



344 THE ENGLISH POETS 

The slow descent to misery from bliss, 

With bitter torment growing day by day, 

And faint hope lessening till it fades away 

Into dull waiting for the certain blow. 

But thou, who nought of coming fate dost know, 

One overwhelming fear, one agony, 

And in a little minute shalt thou be 

Where thou wouldst be in threescore years at most, 

And surely but a poor gift thou hast lost. 

The new-made slave, the toiler on the sea, 

The once rich fallen into poverty. 

In one hour knows more grief than thou canst know; 

And many an one there is who fain would go 

And try their fortune in the unknown life 

If they could win some ending to this strife, 

Unlooked-for, sudden, as thine end shall be. 

Kindly I deal with thee, mine enemy; 

Since swift forgetfulness to thee I send. 

But thou shalt die — his eyes shall see thine end — 

Ah! if thy death alone could end it all! 

"But ye — shall I behold you when leaves fall. 
In some sad evening of the autumn-tide? 
Or shall I have you sitting by my side 
Anudst the feast, so that folk stare and say, 
*Sure the grey wolf has seen the queen to-day?' 
What! when I kneel in temples of the Gods, 
Must I bethink me of the upturned sods, 
And hear a voice say: * Mother, wilt thou come 
And see us resting in our new-made home, 
Since thou wert used to make us lie full soft. 
Smoothing our pillows many a time and oft? 
O mother, now no dainty food we need, 
Whereof thou once wert wont to have such heed. 
O mother, now we need no gown of gold. 
Nor in the winter time do we grow cold; 
Thy hands would bathe us when we were thine own, 
Now doth the rain wash every shining bone. 
No pedagogue we need, for surely heaven 
Lies spread above us, with the planets seven, 
To teach us all its lore.' 



WILLIAM MORRIS 345 



"Ah! day by day 
Would I have hearkened all the folk would say. 
Ah! in the sweet beginning of your days 
Would I have garnered every word of praise. 
*What fearless backers of the untamed steed!' 
'What matchless spears, what loyal friends at need!' 
'What noble hearts, how bountiful and free!' 
'How like their father on the troublous sea!* 

"O sons, with what sweet coimsels and what tears 
Would I have hearkened to the hopes and fears 
Of your first loves: what rapture had it been 
Your dear returning footsteps to have seen 
Amidst the happy warriors of the land; 
But now — ^but now — this is a little hand 
Too often kissed since love did first begin 
To win such curses as it yet shall win, 
When after all bad deeds there comes a worse; 
Praise to the Gods! ye know not how to curse. 

"But when in some dim land we meet agaiq 
Will ye remember all the loss and pain? 
Will ye the form of children keep for aye 
With thoughts of men? and ' Mother,' will ye say, 
'Why didst thou slay us ere we came to know 
That men die? hadst thou waited until now, 
An easy thing it had been then to die, 
For in the thought of immortality 
Do children play about the flowery meads, 
And win their heaven with a crown of weeds.' 

"O children! that I would have died to save, 
How fair a life of pleasure might ye have, 
But for your mother: — ^nay, for thee, for thee, 
For thee who might 'st have lived so happily; 
For thee, O traitor! who didst bring them here 
Into this cruel world, this lovely bier 
Of youth iand love, and joy and happiness. 
That unforeseeing happy fools still bless." 



346 THE ENGLISH POETS 

IV. From The Earthly Paradise 
Apology. 

Of Heaven or Hell I have no power to sing, 
I cannot ease the burden of your fears, 
Or make quick-coming death a little thing, 
Or bring again the pleasure of past years. 
Nor for my words shall ye forget your tears, 
Or hope again for aught that I can say, 
The idle singer of an empty day. 

But rather, when aweary of your mirth, 

From full hearts still unsatisfied ye sigh. 

And, feeling kindly imto all the earth. 

Grudge every minute as it passes by. 

Made the more mindful that the sweet days die — 

Remember me a little then I pray, 

The idle singer of an empty day. 

The heavy trouble, the bewildering care 

That weighs us down who live and earn our bread, 

These idle verses have no power to bear; 

So let me Sing of names remembered, 

Because they, living not, can ne'er be dead, 

Or long time take their memory quite away 

From us poor singers of an empty day. 

Dreamer of dreams, bom out of my due time. 
Why should I strive to set the crooked straight? 
Let it suffice me that my murmuring rhyme 
Beats with light wing against the ivory gate. 
Telling a tale not too importunate 
To those who in the sleepy region stay. 
Lulled by the singer of an empty day. 

Folk say, a wizard to a northern king 
At Christmas-tide such wondrous things did show, 
That through one window men beheld the spring, 
And through another saw the summer glow, 
And through a third the fruited vines a-row, 



WILLIAM MORRIS 347 



While still, imhbard, but in its wonted way, 
Piped the drear wind of that December day. 

So with this Earthly Paradise it is, 
If ye will read aright, and pardon me. 
Who strive to build a shadowy isle of bliss 
Midmost the beating of the steely sea, 
Where tossed about all hearts of men must be; 
Whose ravening monsters mighty men shall s]ay, 
Not the poor singer of an empty day. 



Michael's Ride 

[From The Man born to be King] 

Long time he rode, till suddenly, 
When now the sun was broad and high, 
From out a hollow where the yew 
StiU guarded patches of the dew. 
He rode and saw that he had won 
That highland's edge, and gazed upon 
A valley that beneath the haze 
Of that most fair of autumn days 
Showed glorious; fair with golden sheaves 
Rich with the darkened autumn-leaves. 
Gay with the water-meadows green, 
The bright blue streams that lay between, 
The miles of beauty stretched away 
From that bleak hill-side bare and grey, 
TiU white cliffs over slopes of vine 
Drew 'gainst the sky a broken line. 
And 'twixt the vineyards and the stream 
Michael saw gilded spirelets gleam; 
For, hedged with many a flowery close, 
There lay the Castle of the Rose, 
His hurried journey's aim and end. 

Then downward he began to wend. 
And 'twixt the flowery hedges sweet 
He heard the hook smite down the wheat. 



348 THE ENGLISH POETS 



And murmur of the unseen folk; 

But when he reached the stream that broke 

The golden plain, but leisurely 

He passed the bridge; for he could see 

The masters of that ripening realm, 

Cast down beneath an ancient elm 

Upon a little strip of grass. 

From hand to hand the pitcher pass, 

While on the turf beside them lay 

The ashen-handled sickles grey, 

The matters of their cheer between: 

Slices of white cheese, specked with green, 

And green-striped onions and ryebread, 

And sunmier apples faintly red 

Even beneath the crimson skin; 

And yellow grapes, well ripe and thin, 

Plucked from the cottage gable-end. 

And certes Michael felt their friend, 
Hearing their voices, nor forgot 
His boyhood and the pleasant spot 
Beside the well-remembered stream; 
And friendly did this water seem 
As through its white-flowered weeds it ran 
Bearing good things to beast and man. 



The Castle on the Island 

[From The Lady of the Land] 

And there a lovely cloistered court he found, 
A foimtain in the midst overthrown and dry, 
And in the cloister briers twining round 
The slender shafts; the wondrous imagery 
Outworn by more than many years gone by; 
Because the country people, in their fear 
Of wizardry, had wrought destruction here; 

And piteously these fair things had been maimed; 
There stood great Jove, lacking his head of might; 



WILLIAM MOFRIS 349 



Here was the archer, swift Apollo, lamed; 
The shapely limbs of Venus hid from sight 
By weeds and shards; Diana's ankles light 
Bound with the cable of some coasting ship; 
And rusty nails through Helen's maddening lip. 

Therefrom unto the chambers did he pass. 
And found them fair still, midst of their decay, 
Though in them now no sign of man there was. 
And everything but stone had passed away 
That made them lovely in that vanished day; 
Nay, the mere walls themselves would soon be gone 
And nought be left but heaps of mouldering stone. 

But he, when all the place he had gone o'er 
And with much trouble clomb the broken stair, 
And from the topmost turret seen the shore 
And his good ship drawn up at anchor there. 
Came down again, and found a crypt most fair 
Built wonderfully beneath the greatest hall, 
And there he saw a door within the wall. 

Well-hinged, close shut; nor was there in that place 

Another on its hinges, therefore he 

Stood there and pondered for a little space, 

And thought: "Perchance some marvel I shall see, 

For surely here some dweller there must be, 

Because this door seems whole and new and sound. 

While nought but ruin I can see around." 

So with that word, moved by a strong desire, 
He tried the hasp, that jdelded to his hand, 
And in a strange place, lit as by a fire 
Unseen but near, he presently did stand; 
And by an odorous breeze his face was fanned, 
As though in some Arabian plain he stood, 
Anigh the border of a spice-tree wood. 



3SO THE ENGLISH POETS 



The Hosting of the Fiends 

[From The Ring given to Venus] 

And then swept onward through the night 
A babbling crowd in raiment bright, 
Wherein none listened aught at all 
To what from other lips might fall, 
And none might meet his fellow's gaze; 
And still o'er every restless face 
Passed restless shades of rage and pain, 
And sickening fear and longing vain. 
On woimd that manifold agony 
Unholpen, vile, till earth and sea 
Grew silent, till the moonlight died 
Before a false light blaring wide. 
And from amidst that fearful folk 
The Lord of all the pageant broke. 

Most like a mighty king was he, 
And crowned and sceptred royally; 
As a white flame his visage shone, 
Sharp, clear-cut as a face of stone; 
But flickering flame, not flesh, it was; 
And over it such looks did pass 
Of wild desire, and pain, and fear, 
As in his people's faces were, 
But tenfold fiercer: furthermore, 
A wondrous steed the Master bore, 
Unnameable of kind or make, 
Not horse, nor hippogriff, nor drake, 
Like and unlike to all of these. 
And flickering Uke the semblances 
Of an ill dream, wrought as in scorn 
Of sunny noon, fresh eve, and morn. 
That feed the fair things of the earth. 
And now brake out a mock of mirth 
From all that host, and all their eyes 
Were turned on Laurence in strange wise. 
Who met the maddening fear that burned 



WILLIAM MORRIS 351 



Round his unholpen heart, and turned 
Unto the dreadful king and cried; 
"What errand go ye on? Abide, 
Abide! for I have tarried long; 
Turn thou to me, and right my wrong! 
One of thy servants keeps from me 
That which I gave her not; nay, see 
What thing thy Master bids thee do!" 

Then wearily, as though he knew 
How all should be, the Master turned. 
And his red eyes on Laurence burned. 
As without word the scroll he took; 
But as he touched the skin he shook 
As though for fear, and presently 
In a great voice he *gan to cry: 
"Shall this endure for ever. Lord? 
Hast thou no care to keep thy word? 
And must such double men abide? 
Not mine, not mine, nor on thy side? 
For as thou cursest them I curse: — 
Make thy souls better. Lord, or worse! 

Then spake he to the trembling man: 
"What am I bidden, that I can; 
Bide here, and thou shalt see thine own 
Unto thy very feet cast down; 
Then go and dwell in peace awhile." 
Then roimd he turned with sneering smile 
And once more lonely was the night. 
And colourless with grey moonlight. 



February 

Noon — and the north-west sweeps the empty road. 
The rain-washed fields from hedge to hedge are bare; 
Beneath the leafless elms some hind's abode 
Looks small and void, and no smoke meets the air 
From its poor hearth: one lonely rook doth dare 



352 THE ENGLISH POETS 

The gale, and beats above the unseen corn, 
Then turns, and whirling down the wind is borne. 

Shall it not hap that on some dawn of May 
Thou shalt awake, and, thinking of days dead, 
See nothing clear but this same dreary day. 
Of all the days that have passed o'er thine head? 
Shalt thou not wonder, looking from thy bed, 
Through green leaves on the windless east a-fire, 
That this day too thine heart doth still desire? 

Shalt thou not wonder that it liveth yet. 

The useless hope, the useless craving pain. 

That made thy face, that lonely noontide, wet 

With more than beating of the chilly rain? 

Shalt thou not hope for joy new born again, 

Since no grief ever born can ever die 

Through changeless change of seasons passing by? 



The Book Speaks to Chaucer 

Master, O thou great of heart and tongue, 
Thou well mayst ask me why I wander here. 
In raiment rent of stories oft besung! 

But of thy gentleness draw thou anear, 
And then the heart of one who held thee dear 
Mayst thou behold! So near as that I lay 
Unto the singqr of an empty day. 

For this he ever said, who sent me forth 
To seek a place amid thy company; 
That howsoever little was my worth. 
Yet was he worth e'en just so much as I; 
He said that rhyme hath little skill to lie; 
Nor feigned to cast his worser part away 
In idle singing for an empty day. 

1 have beheld him tremble oft enough 

At things he could not choose but trust to me, 
, Although he knew the world was wise and rough: 



WILLIAM MORRIS 353 



And never did he fail to let me see 
His love, — ^his folly and faithlessness, maybe; 
And still in turn I gave him voice to pray 
Such prayers as cling about an empty day. 

Thou, keen-eyed, reading me, mayst read him through, 

For surely Httle is there left behind; 

No power great deeds imnameable to do; 

No knowledge for which words he may not find, 

No love of things as vague as autumn wind — 

Earth of the earth lies hidden by my clay, 

The idle singer of an empty day! 

Children we twain are, saith he, late made wise 
In love, but in all else most childish still. 
And seeking still the pleasure of our eyes. 
And what our ears with sweetest soimds may fill; 
Not fearing Love, lest these things he should kill; 
Howe'er his pain by pleasure doth he lay. 
Making a strange tale of an empty day. 

Death have we hated, knowing not what it meant; 

Life have we loved, through green leaf and through sere, 

Though still the less we knew of its intent: 

The Earth and Heaven through countless year on year, 

Slow changing, were to us but curtains fair. 

Hung round about a little room, where play 

Weeping and laughter of man's empty day. 

O Master, if thine heart could love us yet, 
Spite of things left imdone, and wrongly done, 
Some place in loving hearts then should we get. 
For thou, sweet-souled, didst never stand alone. 
But knew'st the joy and woe of many an one — 
By lovers dead, who live through thee, we pray, 
Help thou us singers of an empty day! 



354 THE ENGLISH POETS 



V. From Love is Enough 

The Land of the Dream 

There is a place in the world, a great valley 

That seems a green plain from the brow of the mountains, 

But hath knolls and fair dales when adown there thou goest: 

There are homesteads therein with gardens about them, 

And fair herds of kine and grey sheep a-feeding, 

And willow-himg streams wend through deep grassy meadows. 

And a highway winds through them from the outer world coming: 

Girthed about is the vale by a grey wall of mountains, 

Rent apart in three places and tumbled together 

In old times of the world when the earth-fires flowed forth: 

And as you wend up these away from the valley 

You think of the sea and the great world it washes: 

But through two you may pass not, the shattered rocks shut them. 

And up through the third there windeth a highway. 

And its gorge is fulfilled by a black wood of yew-trees. 

And I know that beyond, though mine eyes have not seen it, 

A dty of merchants beside the sea lieth. 



The Music 

Love is enough: draw near and behold me. 
Ye who pass by the way to your rest and your laughter. 
And are full of the hope of the dawn coming after; 

For the strong of the world have bought me and sold me 

And my house is all wasted from threshold to rafter. 

Pass by me, and hearken, and think of me not! 

Cry out and come near; for my ears may not hearken, 
And my eyes are grown dim as the eyes of the dying. 
Is this the grey rack o'er the sun's face a-flying? 

Or is it your faces his brightness that darken? 
Comes a wind from the sea, or is it your sighing? 
Pass by me, and hearken, and pity me not! 



WILLIAM MORRIS 355 



Ye know not how void is your hope and your living: 

Depart with your helping lest yet ye undo me! 

Ye know not that at nightfall she draweth near to me, 
There is soft speech between us and words of forgiving 

Till in dead of the midnight her kisses thrill through me. 
Pass by me, and hearken, and waken me not! 

Wherewith will ye buy it, ye rich who behold me? 

Draw out from your coffers your rest and your laughter. 
And the fair gilded hope of the dawn coming after! 

Nay this I sell not, — ^though ye bought me and sold me, — 

For youj* house stored with such things from threshold to rafter. 
Pass by me, I hearken, and think of you not! 



The Return Home 

Giles. 
Come, overmuch gold mine eyes have seen, 
And long now for the pathway green, 
And rose-hung ancient walls of grey 
Yet warm with sunshine gone away. 

Joan. 
Yea, full fain would I rest thereby, 
And watch the flickering martins fly 
About the long eave-bottles red 
And the clouds lessening overhead: 
E'en now meseems the cows are come 
Unto the grey gates of our home, 
And low to hear the milking-pail: 
The peacock spreads abroad his tail 
Against the sun, as down the lane 
The milkmaids pass the moveless wain 
And stable door, where the roan team 
An hour agone began to dream 
Over the dusty oats — 

Come, love, 
Noises of river and of grove 
And moving things in field and stall 
And night-birds' whistle shall be all 



356 THE ENGLISH POETS 

Of the world's speech that we shall hear 

By then we come the garth anear: 

For then the moon that hangs aloft 

These thronged streets, hghtless now and soft, 

Unnoted, yea e'en like a shred 

Of json wide white cloud overhead. 

Sharp in the dark star-sprinkled sky 

Low o'er the willow boughs shall lie. 



VI. From Sigurd the Volsung 
Sigurd on Hindfell 

So he rideth higher and higher, and the light grows great and 

strange, 
And forth from the clouds it flickers, till at noon they gather and 

change. 
And settle thick on the moimtain, and hide its head from sight; 
But the winds in a while are awakened, and day bettereth ere the 

night. 
And, lifted a measureless mass o'er the desert crag-walls high. 
Cloudless the mountain riseth against the sunset sky. 
The sea of the sun grown golden, as it ebbs from the day's desire; 
And the light that afar was a torch is grown a river of fire. 
And the mountain is black above it, and below it is dark and dun; 
And there is the head of Hindfell as an island in the sun. 

Night falls, but yet rides Sigurd, and hath no thought of rest. 
For he longs to cUmb that rock-world and behold the earth at its 

best; 
But now 'mid the maze of the foot-hills he seeth the light no more. 
And the stars are lovely and gleaming on the Hghtless heavenly 

floor. 
So up and up he wendeth till the night is wearing thin; 
And he rideth a rift of the mountain, and all is dark therein. 
Till the stars are dinuned by dawning and the wakening world 

is cold; 
Then afar in the upper rock-wall a breach doth he behold, 
And a flood of light poured inward the doubtful dawning blinds: 



WILLIAM MORRIS 357 



So swift he rideth thither and the mouth of the breach he finds, 
And sitteth awhile on Greyfell on the marvellous thing to gaze: 
For lo, the side of Hindfell enwrapped by the fervent blaze, 
And nought 'twixt earth and heaven save a world of flickering 

flame, 
And a hurrying shifting tangle, where the dark rents went and 

came. 

Great groweth the heart of Sigurd with uttermost desire, 

And he crieth kind to Greyfell, and they hasten up, and nigher. 

Till he draweth rein in the dawning on the face of Hindfell's 

steep: 
But who shall heed the dawning where the tongues of that wild- 
fire leap? 
For they weave a wavering wall, that driveth over the heaven 
The wind that is bom within it; nor ever aside is it driven 
By the mightiest wind of the waste, and the rain-flood amidst it 

is nought; 
And no wayiFarer's door and no window the hand of its builder 

hath wrought. 
But thereon is the Volsung smiling as its breath uplifteth his hair. 
And his eyes shine bright with its image, and his mail gleams white 

and fair. 
And his war-helm pictures the heavens and the waning stars be- 
hind: 
But his neck is Grejrfell stretching to snuff at the flame- wall blind. 
And his cloudy flank upheaveth, and tinkleth the knitted mail. 
And the gold of the uttermost waters is waxen wan and pale. 

Now Sigurd turns in his saddle, and the hilt of the Wrath he shifts, 
And draws a girth the tighter; then the gathered reins he lifts, 
And crieth aloud to Gre)rfell, and rides at the wildfire's heart; 
But the white wall wavers before him and the flame-flood rusheth 

apart. 
And high o'er his head it riseth, and wide and wild is its roar 
As it beareth the mighty tidings to the very heavenly floor: 
But he rideth through its roaring as the warrior rides the rye, 
When it bows with the wind of the summer and the hid spears 

draw anigh; 
The white flame licks his raiment and sweeps through Greyf ell's 

mane, 



SS^ THE ENGLISH POETS 

And bathes both hands of Sigurd and the hilts of Fafnir's bane, 
And winds about his war-helm and mingles with his hair, 
But nought his raiment dusketh or dims his glittering gear; 
Then it fails and fades and darkens till all seems left behind, 
And dawn and the blaze is swallowed in mid-mirk stark and blind. 

But forth a Uttle further and a little further on 

And all is calm about him, and he sees the scorched earth wan 

Beneath a glimmering twilight, and he turns his conquering eyes, 

And a ring of pale slaked ashes on the side of Hindfell lies; 

And the world of the waste is beyond it; and all is hushed and 

grey, 
And the new-risen moon is a-paleing, and the stars grow fault 

with day. 



The Wisdom of Brynhild 

Be wise, and cherish thine hope in the freshness of the days, 
And scatter its seed from thine hand in the field of the people's 

praise; 
Then fair ^all it fall in the furrow, and some the earth shall speed. 
And the sons of men shall marvel at the blossom of the deed: 
But some the earth shall speed not: nay rather, the wind of the 

heaven 
Shall waft it away from thy longing — ^and a gift to the Gods hast 

thou given. 
And a tree for the roof and the wall in the house of the hope that 

shall be, 
Though it seemeth our very sorrow, and the grief of thee and me. 

When thou hearest the fool rejoicing, and he saith, "It is over 

and past. 
And the wrong was better than right, and hate turns into love at 

the last, 
And we strove for nothing at all, and the Gods are fallen asleep; 
For so good is the world a-growing that the evil good shall 

reap;" 

•Then loosen thy sword in the scabbard and settle the hehn on 

thine head. 
For men betrayed are mighty, and great are the wrongfully dead. 



WILLIAM MORRIS 359 



Wilt thou do the deed and repent it? thou hadst better never been 

bom: 
WDt thou do the deed and exalt it? then thy fame shall be outworn: 
Thou shalt do the deed and abide it, and sit on thy throne on high, 
And look on today and tomorrow as those that never die. 



Gunnar's Death Song 

So perished the Gap of the Gaping, and the cold sea swayed and 

sang, 
And the wind came down on the waters, and the beaten rock- walls 

rang; 
Then the Sim from the south came shining, and the Starry Host 

stood round, 
And the wandering Moon of the Heavens his habitation found; 
And they knew not why they were gathered, nor the deeds of their 

shaping they knew: 
But lo, Mid-Earth the Noble 'neath their might and their glory 

grew. 
And the grass spread over its face, and the Night and the Day 

were bom, 
And it cried on the Death in the even, and it cried on the Life in 

the mom, 
Yet it waxed and waxed, and knew not, and it lived and had not 

learned; 
And where were the Framers that framed, and the Soul and the 

Might that had yearned? 

On the Thrones are the Powers that fashioned, and they name 

the Night and the Day, 
And the tide of the Moon's increasing, and the tide of his wam'ng 

away: 
And they name the years for the story; and the Lands they change 

and change, 
The great and the naean and the little, that this unto that may be 

strange: 
They met, and they fashioned dwellings, and the House of Glory 

they built; 
They met, and they fashioned the Dwarf-kind, and the Gold and 

the Gifts and the Guilt. 



36o THE ENGLISH POETS 

There were twain, and they went upon earth, and were speech- 
less umnighty and wan; 

They were hopeless, deathless, lifeless, and the Mighty named 
them Man: 

Then they gave them speech and power, and they gave them 
colour and breath; 

And deeds and the hope they gave them, and they gave them 
Life and Death; 

Yea, hope, as the hope of the Framers; yea, might, as the Fashion- 
ers had, 

Till they wrought, and rejoiced in their bodies, and saw their sons 
and were glad: 

And they changed their lives and departed, and came back as 
the leaves of the trees 

Come back and increase in the siunmer: — ^and I, I, I am of these; 

And I know of Them that have fashioned, and the deeds that 
have blossomed and grow; 

But nought of the Gods' repentance, or the Gods' undoing I know. 

hearken, Kindreds and Nations, and all Kings of the plen- 

teous earth, 
Heed, ye that shall come hereafter, and are far and far from the 
birth! 

1 have dwelt in the world aforetime, and I called it the garden 

of God; 

I have stayed my heart with its sweetness, and fair on its fresh- 
ness I trod; 

I have seen its tempest and wondered, I have cowered adown from 
its rain. 

And desired the brightening simshine, and seen it and been fain; 

I have waked, time was, in its dawm'ng; its noon and its even I 
wore; 

I have slept unafraid of its darkness, and the days have been 
many and more: 

f 

I have dwelt with the deeds of the mighty; I have woven the web 
of the sword; ( 

I have borne up the guilt nor repented; I have sorrowed nor 
spoken the word; 

And I fought and was glad in the morning, and I sing in the night 
and the end: 



WILLIAM MORRIS 361 



So let him stand forth, the Accuser, and do on the death-shoon 

to wend; 
For not here on the earth shall I hearken, nor on earth for the 

dooming shall stay, 
Nor stretch out mine hand for the pleading; for I see the spring 

of the day 
Round the doors of the golden Valhall, and I see the mighty arise, 
And I hearken the voice of Odin, and his mouth on Gunnar 

cries, 
And he nameth the Son of Giuki, and cries on deeds long done. 
And the fathers of my fathers, and the sons of yore agone. 



VII. From Poems by the Way 

Mother and Son 

Lo, amidst London I lift thee, 
and how little and light thou art. 
And thou without hope or fear, 
thou fear and hope of my heart! 
Lo here thy body beginning, 

son, and thy soul and thy Hfe; 
But how will it be if thou Hvest, 
and enterest into the strife, 
And in love we dwell together 
when the man is grown in thee, 
When thy sweet speech I shall hearken, 
and yet 'twixt thee and me 

Shall rise that wall of distance, 

that roimd each one doth grow. 

And maketh it hard and bitter 

each other's thought to know. 

Now, therefore, while yet thou art little 

and hast no thought of thine own, 

1 will tell thee a word of the world; 
of the hope whence thou hast grown, 
Of the love that once begat thee, 

of the sorrow that hath made 

Thy little heart of himger, 

and thy hands on my bosom laid. 



362 THE ENGLISH POETS 

Then mayst thou remember hereafter, 

as whiles when people say 

All this hath happened before 

in the life of another day; 

So mayst thou dimly remember 

this tale of thy mother's voice, 

As oft in the calm of dawning 

I have heard the birds rejoice, 

As oft I have heard the storm-wind 

go moaning through the wood; 

And I knew that earth was speaking, 

and the mother's voice was good. 

Now, to thee alone will I tell it 

that thy mother's body is fair. 

In the guise of the country maidens 

who play with the sun and the air; 

Who have stood in the row of the reapers 

in the August afternoon. 

Who have sat by the frozen water 

in the high day of the moon, 

When the lights of the Christmas feasting 

were dead in the house on the hill, 

And the wild geese gone to the salt-marsh 

had left the winter still. 

Yea, I am fair, my firstling; 

if thou couldst but remember me! 

The hair that thy small hand clutcheth 

is a goodly sight to see; 

I am true, but my face is a snare; 

soft and deep are my eyes. 

And they seem for men's beguiling 

fulfilled with the dreams of the wise. 

Kind are my lips, and they look 

as though my soul had learned 

Deep things I have never heard of. 

My face and my hands are burned 

By the lovely sim of the acres; 

three months of London town 

And thy birth-bed have bleached them indeed, 

"But lo, where the edge of the gown" 



WILLIAM MORRIS 363 



(So said thy father) "is parting 
the wrist that is white as the curd 
From the brown of the hand that I love, 
bright as the wing of a bird." 



Young Love 

It was many a day that we laughed, 

as over the meadows we walked, 

And many a day I hearkened 

and the pictures came as he talked; 

It was many a day that we longed, 

and we lingered late at eve 

Ere speech from speech was simdered, 

and my hand his hand could leave. 

Then I wept when I was alone, 

and I longed till the daylight came; 

And down the stairs I stole, 

and there was our housekeeping dame 

(No mother of me, the foundling) 

kindling the fire betimes 

Ere the haymaking folk went forth 

to the meadows down by the limes; 

All things I saw at a glance; 

the quickening fire-tongues leapt 

Through the crackling heap of sticks, 

and the sweet smoke up from it crept, 

And close to the very hearth 

the low Sim flooded the floor. 

And the cat and her kittens played 

in the sim by the open door. 

The garden was fair in the morning, 

and there in the road he stood 

Beyond the crimson daisies 

and the bush of southernwood. 



364 THE ENGLISH POETS 



The Day is Coming 

Come hither, lads, and hearken, 
for a tale there is to tell. 
Of the wonderful days a-coming, 
when all shall be better than well. 

And the tale shall be told of a country, 
a land in the midst of the sea, 
And folk shall call it England 
in the days that are going to be. 

There more than one in a thousand 
in the days that are yet to come. 
Shall have some hope of the morrow 
some joy of the ancient home. 

For then, laugh not, but listen 
to this strange tale of mine. 
All folk that are in England 
shall be better lodged than swine. 

Then a man shall work and bethink him 
and rejoice in the deeds of his hand, 
Nor yet come home in the even 
too faint and weary to stand. 

Men in that time a-coming 
shall work and have no fear 
For to-morrow's lack of earning 
and the hunger-wolf anear. 

I tell you this for a wonder, 
that no man then shall be glad 
Of his fellow's fall and mishap 
to snatch at the work he had. 

For that which the worker winneth 
shall then be his indeed, 



WILLIAM MORRIS 365 



Nor shall half be reaped for nothing 
by him that sowed no seed. 

O strange new wonderful justice! 
But for whom shall we gather the gain? 
For ourselves and for each of our fellows, 
and no hand shall labour in vain. 

Then all Mine and all Thine shall be Ours, 
and no more shall any man crave 
For riches that serve for nothing 
but to fetter a friend for a slave. 

And what wealth then shall be left us 
when none shall gather gold 
To buy his friend in the market, 
and pinch and pine the sold? 

Nay, what save the lovely city, 

and the little house on the hill, 

And the wastes and the woodland beauty, 

and the happy fields we till; 

And the homes of ancient stories, 
the tombs of the mighty dead; 
And the wise men seeking out marvels, 
and the poet's teeming head; 

And the painter's hand of wonder; 
and the marvellous fiddle-bow. 
And the banded choirs of music: 
all those that do and know. 

For all these shall be ours and all men's, 

nor shall any lack a share 

Of the toil and the gain of living 

in the days when the world grows fair- 



366 THE ENGUSH POETS 



Thunder in the Garden 

When the boughs of the garden hang heavy with rain 

And the blackbird reneweth his song, 

And the thunder departing yet rolleth again, 

I remember the ending of wrong. 

When the day that was dusk while his death was aloof 
Is ending wide-gleaming and strange 
For the clearness of all things beneath the world's roof 
I call back the wild chance and the change. 

For once we twain sat through the hot afternoon 
While the rain held aloof for a while, 
Till she, the soft-clad, for the glory of June 
Changed all with the change of her smile. 

For her smile was of longing, no longer of glee, 
And her fingers, entwined with mine own. 
With caresses unquiet sought kindness of me 
For the gift that I never had known. 

Then down rushed the rain, and the voice of the thunder 

Smote dumb all the sound of the street. 

And I to myself was grown nought but a wonder, 

As she leaned down my kisses to meet. 

That she craved for my lips that had craved her so often, 
And the hand that had trembled to touch. 
That the tears filled her eyes I had hoped not to soften 
In this world was a marvel too much. 

It was dusk 'mid the thunder, dusk e'en as the night. 
When first brake out our love like the storm, 
But no night-hour was it, and back came the light 
While our hands with each other were warm. 

And her smile, killed with kisses, came back as at first 
As she rose up and led me along. 
And out to the garden, where nought was athirst. 
And the blackbird renewing his song. 



WILLIAM MORRIS 367 



Earth's fragrance went with her, as in the wet grass 
Her feet Httle hidden were set; 
She bent down her head, 'neath the roses to pass, 
And her arm with the Uly was wet. 

In the garden we wandered while day waned apace 
And the thunder was dying aloof; 
Till the moon o'er the minster-wall lifted his face. 
And grey gleamed out the lead of the roof. 

Then we turned from the blossoms, and cold were they grown; 

In the trees the wind westering moved; 

Till over the threshold back fluttered her gown, 

And in the dark house was I loved. 



The Flowering Orchard 

[For a Silk Embroidery] 

Lo, silken my garden 

and silken my sky, 
And silken my apple-boughs 

hanging on high; ' 

All wrought by the worm 
in the peasant-carle's cot 

On the mulberry leafage 
when simuner was hot. 



ALGERNON CHARLES 
SWINBURNE 

[Algernon Charles Swinburne was bom on April 5, j837^ m London. 
He was the eldest son of Admiral Swinburne and Lady Jane, daughter 
of the third Earl of Ashbumham. He was sent to Eton in 1849 and left 
in 1853. After some private work with a tutor, he matricvdated at Balliol 
College, Oxford, in 1856. He left Oxford, without a degree, in 1859, and 
settled in London. In i860 his earliest volume, a brace of dramas in vers?, 
was published, but he became first known to the public by Atalanta in 
Calydon (1865), which was quickly followed by Chastelard (1865) and 
Poems and Ballads (1866). The last named was accused of indecency 
and profanity, and produced a vociferous protest. The poet, however, 
was little moved, and continued to write in prose and verse with the 
greatest assiduity. His life, which was wholly dedicated to literature, 
was without external movement. In 1879, ^^ consequence of his state of 
health, he was induced to take up his abode with a friend at Putney, and 
here he remained for nearly thirty years, in great retirement, which was 
partly forced upon him by his deafness. His daily walk over Putney 
Hill became classic. He died of pneumonia, after a short illness, on the 
loth of April, 1909, and was buried at Bonchurch among the graves of 
his family.] 

The gift by which Swinburne first won his way to the hearts of 
a multitude of readers was unquestionably the melody of his verse. 
The choruses in Atalanta in Calydon and the metrical inventions in 
Poems and Ballads acted on the ear of his contemporaries like an 
enchantment. Swinburne carried the prosody of the romantic age 
to its extreme point of mellifluousness, and he introduced into it a 
quality of speed, of throbbing velocity, which no one, not even 
Shelley, had anticipated. In some of the odes in Songs before 
Sunrise he went even farther, and produced effects of such sonorous 
volume and such elaborate antiphonal harmony that it was obvious 
that English verse, along those lines, could proceed no farther. In 
point of fact, after 1871, it did proceed no farther even in Swin- 
burne's own hands, his later efforts to surpass his own miraculous 
virtuosity being less and less completely satisfactory, and indeed 



ALGERNON CHARLES SWINBURNE . 369 

more and more like an imitation of himself. The poem called 
Maler Triumphalis may be taken as the extreme instance of Swin- 
burne's redundant volubility of sound before his talent in this 
direction began to decline, and we may hold it to be certain that 
in this species of prosody, about which a strong heretical reaction 
has long ago begun to set in, no other poet will ever surpass or even 
equal Swinburne. 

This undisputed mastery in regular verse has, however, from the 
first tended to obscure the intellectual and imaginative qualities of 
a poet who was almost more directly and exclusively endowed with 
them than any one else who ever lived. There may, that is to say, 
have been greater poets than he, but none was ever more penetrated 
with a sense of his high calling, or enjoyed an intenser exhilaration 
in the performance of it. He was preserved by a remarkable strain 
of common sense from losing his sanity and even from plunging into 
extravagance, but he was always at the edge of frenzy, always 
simmering on the flames of his enthusiasm. This high literary 
temperature of Swinburne's was one of his most notable char- 
acteristics, and it must be borne in mind in every attempt to esti- 
mate the value of his work. It gave to his poems an impression of 
heat and speed, a sort of volcanic impetus, which deh'ghted those 
who liked it and infuriated those who did not. In the beginning, it 
was impossible to estimate the poems of Swinburne without preju- 
dice. There is stiJl no recent figure more difiicult to approach 
judicially. 

To begin to comprehend him we must perceive that he was 
completely dominated by the intuitive forms of sensibility, in the 
Kantian sense. His mind and character are neither intelligible nor 
worthy of attention unless we regard them from the aesthetic point 
of view. Other great poets present various facets of being which 
may not be so important or so striking as their literary side, but 
are perceptible. Swinburne alone is a man of letters, or nothing at _ 
all. His long life offers us a series of extraordinary negatives^ 
he was never married, he was never responsible for the career of 
another human being, he possessed no home of his own, he exercised 
no business or profession, he passed through the years like the 
fabulous Bird of Paradise, which never perched, because it had 
no feet. Swinburne never perched, but we may pursue the image 
so far as to say that when he was weary of his ceaseless flight, in 
middle age, he sank upon a nest from which he never had the 
energy to rise again. Charles Darwin tells us that ''birds appear 



370 THE ENGLISH POETS 

to be the most aesthetic of all animals"; Swinburne, who was often 
compared with a bird, was the most aesthetic of all himian beings. 

The dullness of his final thirty years in a sort of voluntary 
captivity at Putney has tended to obscure the picturesque legend 
of his prime, to which it is essential that memory should return. 
His childhood and early youth — contrary to the customary idea — 
were not artistically productive; his old age was monotonous and 
insipid; but there was a middle period of about twenty years in 
which he flamed Uke a comet right across our poetical heavens. 
This period extended from his last term at Oxford to the rapid 
decline of his energy when he had passed his fortieth birthday. 
During the first half of this part of his career he was known only to 
a close circle of admirers; from 1865 to 1875, or a little later, he was 
the cynosure and centre of public curiosity, awakening in the latter 
case such passions of adoration and loathing, rapture and fear, as 
literature had wholly ceased to rouse since 181 5. He represented 
to a dazzled generation the uncontrolled worship of beauty, and he 
did so with imrivalled power because he was so disinterested. The 
world was astonished at the phenomenon of a voice which rang out 
Uke that of the angel of the Morning Star, and which yet, so far as 
action went, was nothing but a voice. Swinburne reminded us of 
the hero of Gautier's novel (which he admired so extravagantly) 
"dont la sensualit6 imaginative s'est compliqu6e et rafl5n6e, avant 
Texperience, dans les mus6es et les biblioth^ues." Swinburne dis- 
played a prodigious sensibility, which was fed on books and pic- 
tures, not on life. 

We shall, therefore, not merely fail to appreciate the position of 
Swinburne, but stumble blindly in our examination of his qualities, 
if we do not begin by perceiving that, to a degree imparalleled, he 
was cerebral in all his forces. He was an unbodied inteUigence 
"hidden in the light of thought," showering a rain of melody from 
some altitude untouched by the drawbacks and privileges of 
mortality. Tennyson might have been a farmer. Browning a stock- 
broker; Rossetti was a painter and Morris an upholsterer; but it 
is impossible to conceive Swinburne as "taking up" any species of 
useful employment. To our great good fortune, he was possessed 
of what are called "moderate means," which happily climg to him, 
by no conscious efifort of his own, to the end of his days. He was 
therefore able to spin out his dream and his music without any 
species of material disturbance, his only approaches to "action" 
being the chimerical controversies, always on aesthetic questions, 



ALGERNON CHARLES SWINBURNE 371 

in which he engaged with mimic fury. These were to him what 
golf is to other ageing men: they were a form of health-preserving 
exercise. 

It might have been supposed that a being so isolated from the 
common occupations of mankind, and so exclusively saturated in 
literature, would be imitative, artificial, and ineffective when he 
came to the task of composition. But the paradox is that Swin- 
burne, soaked as he was in the wisdom of the ages, responsive like 
an iEoUan harp to every breath of the wind of past poetry, is one of 
the most definitely original of all writers. He is himself to a fault, 
to our positive impatience and annoyance; he has a quality of 
style, a sort of perfimie, which is so exclusively his own that it vexes 
us when or where it ceases to please us. Swinburne was a master of 
every artifice of imitation, and yet — except where he is intention- 
ally a parodist — \k is instantly recognizable imder all disguises. 
He floods whatever he touches with his own pungent musk. 

By heritage on both sides Algernon Swinburne was an aristocrat, 
and of his descent and bringing-up he retained something per- 
ceptible in his poetry — its fastidiousness, its independence— which 
was affected neither by popular prejudice nor by the authority of 
tradition. In private b'fe his manners were affable and gracious, 
but they were ceremonious too; and we may see in his poetical 
attitude a distinct trace of hauteur. Apart from this emphasis, 
this touch of conscious dignity, there was in his original gesture 
towards literature a certain arrogant disregard of public taste, a 
disdain which wa3 of the aristocratic order. At a marvellously 
early age, and apparently by unaided instinct, he discovered the 
poets who were, to the very close of his life, to remain his most 
cherished companions. The httle Eton schoolboy who selected 
Landor, Marlowe, and Catullus as his favourite writers, without 
the smallest affectation, because they pleased him best, because 
they thrilled him with rapture, might be expected, when, long years 
later, he too became a writer, to trouble himself not a whit about 
the accepted fashions of the hour. 

Swinburne's attitude of rebellion was not plainly discerned, 
though it was indicated, in his earlier publications, which were all 
of the dramatic order. But from 1859 until he published Poems and 
Ballads in 1866 he was preparing what amounted to a lyrical and 
therefore apparently a personal manifesto of rebellion against the 
poetical taste of the day. The key-note of that much-discussed 
volume was a mutinous one; on the ethical, the religious, and the 



372 THE ENGLISH POETS 

purely literary sides it was essentially revolutionary and provoca- 
tive. The general public and the reviewers, outraged in their dear- 
est convictions, sought a refuge in an indignant reproof of "the 
overpassionate sensuousness" of Poems and Ballads, It was 
treated so vehemently as a work of unseemly tendency, as an 
incentive to dissolute conduct, that a certain stigma of practical 
immorality has rested upon it ever since. But although this view 
was very loftily presented by the moralists of 1866, it was founded 
less upon fact than upon terror and prejudice. It was only so far 
true as it is true to say that any reference to certain sexual aberra- 
tions may tend to immorality. But what the poet was actually en- 
gaged in projecting was a reaction not against the morals but 
against the aesthetic authorities of the hour, with the design of 
replacing them by a wider range of intellectual interests, a warmer 
glow of imagination, and a more spirited exercise of executive skill. 
The result of contemplating "Dora" to excess was to create a 
curiosity as to the case of "Anactoria." Alike in the classic, the 
mediaeval, and the biblical subjects of which Poems and Ballads 
treat, the moral or immoral significance of the poet's statement was 
very slight in comparison with the artistic passion which he exer- 
cised in making it, his object being in all cases beauty, and nothing 
but beauty, even where the subject might seem to demand a rep- 
robation which it was none of his business to supply. 

He presented a new ideal of poetry, in defiance of the mid- 
Victorian Muses: 

''Ah the singing, ah the delight, the passion! 
All the Loves wept, listening; sick with anguish. 
Stood the crowned nine Muses about Apollo; 

Fear was upon them. 
While the tenth sang wonderful things they knew not." 

Well satisfied with the effect of his ethical lyrics, Swinburne 
turned to the transcendental study of politics; or rather, he now 
concentrated for some years upon this subject elements which had 
long existed side by side with his analysis of passion. We must go 
back to 1849, when the extraordinary little boy, as he read the 
Italian newspapers in the College library at Eton, perceived Maz- 
zini entering Florence in triumph and proclaiming the short-lived 
Republic of Tuscany. From that deceptive moment, from that 
flash in the cloud, the eyes of Algernon Swinburne were riveted 
upon the deliverer of Italy. It was to be long before the worship of 



ALGERNON CHARLES SWINBURNE 373 

Swinburne for Mazzjni was to become articulate, but it continued 
to intensify, while the irritation against kings and priests grew 
more and more violent, until the full volimie and vehemence of it 
was poured out upon the world in the Songs before Sunrise of 1871. 
The revolutionary aspirations of which Swinburne made himself 
the trumpet were mainly those of one country, and that not his 
own; he was practically the mouthpiece of what he called "Itaha, 
the world's wonder, the world's care." This would greatly restrict 
our final interest in the collection of poems, were it not that the 
poet combined with his fury for Italian revolution a whole system 
of philosopical considerations. These were so original and pro- 
found that they must always give such pieces as Hertha and Tiresias 
and the Prelude a permanent value not to be measured in terms of 
Aspromonte or Mentana. The emotion of the poet in presence of 
the supreme and eternal characteristics of the imiverse gives to the 
noblest parts of Songs before Sunrise an imparalleled intensity. 

But, meanwhile, in several dramas, of which Atalanta in Calydon 
and Chastelard are the most important, Swinburne had shown him- 
self desirous to compete with the great playwrights of Athens and of 
Elizabeth. These chamber-plays were diversified with enchanting 
I)nics, but they are mainly composed in a highly competent and 
suave blank verse, the merit of which, however, does not prevent 
our missing something of the burning colour and vehement motion 
of the wholly lyrical volumes. Swinburne was never weary of the 
dramatic form, and he continued to cultivate it to the very close of 
his life. The dozen plays which are enrolled in the Hst of his 
writings do not exhaust the tale of his dramatic experiments. 
Among them all BotJrweU stands out as theatrically the most 
successful; it approaches near to our conception of what a vast 
theatrical romance should be, and the characters in it are built up 
with great solicitude and deliberation. Of the choral plays 
ErechiheuSy though it can never enjoy the popularity of Atalanta^ 
has a majesty of ceremonial perfection hardly to be sought else- 
where in English literature. But Swinburne, in spite of all his 
effort, remains a Ijrical poet who crowded an imaginary stage with 
historical and literary rather than histrionic conceptions. 

If he was never wholly successful in drama, he was still less so 
in narrative. He had no faculty for telling a story either in prose or 
in verse, and in this he is much inferior not only to William Morris, 
but even to D. G. Rossetti. Swinburne, however, was persistently 
anxious to excel in this direction, and by dint of immense labour he 



374 THE ENGLISH POETS 

completed a romantic epic, Tristram of Lyonesse, which he hoped 
would be the crowning triumph of his career. In spite, however, of 
passages of extreme beauty — ^all of them of the lyrical order — 
Tristram was found to possess the fatal fault of making no progress 
in the telling of its tale. In the phrase of Marvell, the reader of it 
exclaims: — 

'* Stumbling on melons, as I pass, 
Ensnared with flowers, I fall on grass," 

the complication and excess of ornament positively, choking the 
progress of the narrative. If Tristram of Lyonesse, however, is a 
splendid failure, it is important as illustrating a side of Swinburne's 
poetry which is of great importance, his passion for and intimate 
knowledge of the sea. Like the child in Thalassius (a consciously 
autobiographical poem), 

"The sovd of [Swinburne's] senses felt 
The passionate pride of deep-sea pvdses. . . . 
And with his heart 
The tidal throb of all the tides kept rhyme." 

The only physical exercises in which at any time of his life he 
took pleasure were riding and swimming, each of which mim'stered 
to his craving for rapid and impetuous movement. He is like a 
swinmier and a rider in his dithyrambic melodies, and there is an 
intimate connexion between the vehemence of his poetry and his 
delight in headlong exercise. But in his continuous passion for 
and cultivation of the sea there is more than this. When he was in 
middle life, and his bodily fire had much decayed, he wrote, in 
a private letter, " As for the sea, its salt must have been in my blood 
before I was bom. . . . It shows the /rw/^j of my endless passionate 
returns to the sea in all my verse." No one, indeed, has ever 
questioned either the sincerity or the felicity of the constant allu- 
sions to the sea which animate, with a marvellous variety, ahnost 
every work which Swinburne has signed. In this he surpasses all 
other poets, for they have celebrated deeds on ships or the life of 
the mantmie profession, but Swinburne more than any of them 
nas dealt with the various moods, appearances, and voices of the 
element itself. In particular he has introduced, with magical 
enect, a new motif into poetry, the physical intoxication of the 
nToar?/"' fl^Pl^y^^g it as a symbol of the intense and hazardous 
progress of the soul through the mystery of experience. 



ALGERNON CHARLES SWINBURNE 375 

It does not lead us far to inquire, with the critics of forty years 
ago, what Swinburne owes to Greece and France and Northumber- 
land, or to trace in him evidences of the influence of Baudelaire or 
Shelley, of Marlowe or of Victor Hugo. We grant that this great 
musician was of the composite order, that his genius was biu'lt up 
with precious materials for which he had ransacked the ages. But 
he melted these materials in a fire of intellectual passion hotter 
than that possessed by any of his contemporaries, and he applied 
the result explosively to the poetical conventions of his youth. He 
compelled the world at large to take a more exalted view than it 
ever had taken of the heritage of the past, and he added to that 
treasure a magnificent contribution of his own. He was a disin- 
terested enthusiast, and Beauty was never celebrated in purer or 
more rapturous music. 

Edmund Gosse. 

[From Atalanta in Calydon] 
Chorus 






When the hoimds of spring are on winter's traces. 
The mother of months in meadow or plain 

Fills the shadows and windy places 
With lisp of leaves and ripple of rain; V 

And the brown bright nightingale amorous o 

Is half assuaged for Itylus, 

For the Thracian ships and the foreign faces, a 
The tongueless vi^, and all the pain.* .^ 

Come with bows bent and with emptying of quivers. 

Maiden most perfect, lady of light, 
With a noise of winds and many rivers, 

With a clamouf of waters, and with might; 
Bind on thy sandals, O thou most fleet, 
Over the splendour and speed of thy feet; 
For the faint east quickens, the wan west shivers, 

Roimd the feet of the day and the feet of the night. 

Where shall we find her, how shall we sing to her, 
Fold our hands round her knees, and cling? 

O that man's heart were as fire and could spring to her, 
Fire, or the strength of the streams that spring! 



376 THE ENGLISH POETS 

For the stars and the winds are unto her 
As raiment, as songs of the harp-player; 
For the risen stars and the fallen cling to her, 
And the southwest-wind and the west-wind sing. 

For winter's rains and ruins are over. 

And all the season of snows and sins; 
The days dividing lover and lover, 

The light that loses, the night that wins; 
And time remembered is grief forgotten. 
And frosts are slain and flowers begotten, 
And in green imderwood and cover 

Blossom by blossom the spring begins. 

The full streams feed on flower of rushes. 

Ripe grasses trammel a travelling foot. 
The faint fresh flame of the young year flushes 

From leaf to flower and flower to fruit; 
And fruit and leaf are as gold and fire, 
And the oat is heard above the Ijre, 
And the hoofed heel of a satyr crushes 

The chestnut-husk at the chestnut-root. 

And Pan by noon and Bacchus by night, ^ . .un^ 

Fleeter of foot than''the fleet-foot kid)' V^ y >^^'^ J 

Follows with dancing and fills with delight 
The Maenad and the Bassarid; 
And soft as lips that laugh and hide 
The laughing leaves of the trees divide. 
And screen from seeing and leave in sight 
The god pursuing, the maiden hid. 

The ivy falls with the Bacchanal's hair 

Over her eyebrows hiding her eyes; 
The wild vine slipping down leaves bare 

Her bright breast shortening into sighs; 
The wild vine slips with the weight of its leaves, 
But the berried ivy catches and cleaves 
To the limbs that glitter, the feet that scare 

The wolf that follows, the fawn that flies. 



ALGERNON CBARLES SWINBURNE 377 



Chorus 

Before the beginniDg of years 

There came to the making of man 
Time, with a gift of tears; 

Grief, with a glass that ran; 
Pleasure, with pain for leaven; 

Sunmier, with flowers that fell; 
Remembrance fallen from heaven, 

And madness risen from hell; 
Strength without hands to smite; 

Love that endures for a breath; 
Night, the shadow of light, 

And life, the shadow of death. 

And the high gods took in hand 

Fire, and the falling of tears. 
And a measure of sliding sand 

From imder the feet of the years; 
And froth and drift of the sea; 

And dust of the labouring earth; 
And bodies of things to be 

In the houses of death and of birth; 
And wrought with weeping and laughter, 

And fashioned with loathing and love, 
With life before and after. 

And death beneath and above. 
For a day and a night and a morrow. 

That his strength might endure for a span, 
With travail and heavy sorrow, 

The holy spirit of man. 

From the winds of the north and the south 

They gathered as imto strife; 
They breathed upon his mouth, 

They filled his body with life; 
Eyesight and speech they wrought 

For the veils of the soul therein, 
A time for labour and thought, 

A time to serve and to sin; 



378 THE ENGLISH POETS 

They gave him light in his ways, 

And love, and a space for delight, 
And beauty and length of days, 

And night, and sleep in the night. 
His speech is a burning fire; 

With his lips he travaileth; 
In his heart is a blind desire, 

In his eyes foreknowledge of death; 
He weaves, and is clothed with derision; 

Sows, and he shall not reap; 
His life is a watch or a vision 

Between a sleep and a sleep. ' 

Itylus 

Swallow, my sister, O sister swallow. 
How can thine heart be full of the spring? 
A thousand summers are over and dead. 
What hast thou found in the spring to follow? 
What hast thou found in thine heart to sing? 
What wilt thou do when the summer is shed? 

swallow, sister, O fair swift swallow. 

Why wilt thou fly after spring to the south. 
The soft south whither thine heart is set? 
Shall not the grief of the old time follow? 

Sh^-ll not the song thereof cleave to thy mouth? 
Hast thou forgotten ere I forget? 

Sister, my sister, O fleet sweet swallow. 
Thy way is long to the sun and the south; 
But I, fulfilled of my heart's desire. 
Shedding my song upon height, upon hollow, 
From tawny body and sweet small mouth 
Feed the heart of the night with fire. 

1 the nightingale all spring through*, 

O swallow, sister, O changing swallow, 
All spring through till the spring be done. 
Clothed with the light of the night on the dew, 

Sing, while the hours and the wild birds follow, 
Take flight and follow and find the sun. 



ALGERNON CHARLES SWINBURNE 379 

Sister, my sister, O soft Ught swallow, 
Though all things feast in the spring's guest-chamber, 
How hast thou heart to be glad thereof yet? 
For where thou fliest I shall not follow, 
Till life forget and death remember, 
Till thou remember and I forget. 

Swallow, my sister, O singing swallow, 
I know not how thou hast heart to sing. 
Hast thou the heart? is it all past over? 
Thy lord the sunmier is good to follow, 
And fair the feet of thy lover the spring: 
But what wilt thou say to the spring thy lover? 

O swallow, sister, O fleeting swallow. 
My heart in me is a molten ember 
And over my head the waves have met; 
But thou wouldst tarry or I would follow 
Could I forget or thou remember, 
Couldst thou remember and I forget. 

O sweet stray sister, O shifting swallow. 
The heart's division divideth us. 
Thy heart is light as a leaf of a tree; 
But mine goes forth among sea-gulfs hollow 
To the place of the slaying of Itylus, 
The feast of Daulis, the Thracian sea. 

O swallow, sister, O rapid swallow, 
I pray thee sing not a little space. 
Are not the roofs and the lintels wet? 
The woven web that was plain to follow, 
The small slain body, the flower-like face, 
Can I remember if thou forget? 

O sister, sister, thy first-begotten! 

The hands that cling and the feet that follow. 
The voice of the child's blood crying yet. 
Who hath remembered me? who hath forgotten? 
Thou hast forgotten, O summer swallow. 
But the world shall end when I forget. 



38o THE ENGLISH POETS 



A Match 

If love were what the rose is, 
And I were like the leaf, 

Our lives would grow together 

In sad or singing weather. 

Blown fields or flowerful closes. 
Green pleasure or grey grief; 

If love were what the rose is, 
And I were like the leaf. 

If I were what the words are. 
And love were like the tune. 
With double sound and single 
Delight our lips would mingle. 
With kisses glad as birds are 

That get sweet rain at noon; 
If I were what the words are. 
And love were like the tune. 

If you were life, my darling, 
And I your love were death. 

We'd shine and snow together 

Ere March made sweet the weather 

With daflFodil and starling 
And hours of fruitful breath; 

If you were life, my darling, 
And I your love were death. 

If you were thrall to sorrow. 

And I were page to joy. 
We'd play for lives and seasons 
With loving looks and treasons 
And tears of night and morrow 

And laughs of maid and boy; 
If you were thrall to sorrow, 

And I were page to joy. 



ALGERNON CHARLES SWINBURNE 381 

If you were ApriFs lady, 

And I were lord in May, 
We'd throw with leaves for hours 
And draw for days with flowers, 
Till day like night were shady 

And night were bright like day; 
K you were April's lady, 

And I were lord in May. 



If you were queen of pleasure, 

And I were king of pain, 
We'd himt down love together. 
Pluck out his flying feather. 
And teach his feet a measure, 
And find his mouth a rein; 
If you were queen of pleasure. 
And I were king of pain. 



From "The Triumph of Time" 

There lived a singer in France of old 

By the tideless dolorous midland sea. 
In a land of sand and ruin and gold 

There shone one woman, and none but she. 
And finding life for her love's sake fail. 
Being fain to see her, he bade set sail. 
Touched land, and saw her as life grew cold. 
And praised God, seeing; and so died he. 



Died, praising God for his gift and grace: 

For she bowed down to him weeping, and said 
"Live;" and her tears were shed on his face 

Or ever the life in his face was shed. 
The sharp tears fell through her hair, and stung 
Once, and her close lips touched him and clung 
Once, and grew one with his lips for a s^ace; 
And so drew back, and the man was dead. 



382 THE ENGLISH POETS 

brother, the gods were good to you. 
Sleep, and be glad while the world endures. 

Be well content as the years wear through; 

Give thanks for life, and the loves and lures; 
Give thanks for life, O brother, and death, 
For the sweet last soimd of her feet, her breath. 
For gifts she gave you, gracious and few, 

Tears and kisses, that lady of yours. 

Rest, and be glad of the gods; but I, 
How shall I praise them, or how take rest? 

There is not room imder all the sky 
For me that know not of worst or best, 

Dream or desire of the days before, 

Sweet things or bitterness, any more. 

Love will not come to me now though I die. 
As love came close to you, breast to breast. 

1 shall never be friends again with roses; 

I shall loathe sweet tunes, where a note grown strong 
Relents and recoils, and climbs and closes. 

As a wave of the sea turned back by song. 
There are spimds where the soul's delight takes fire, 
Face to face with its own desire; 
A delight that rebels, a desire that reposes; 

I shall hate sweet music my whole life long. 

The pulse of war and passion of wonder. 
The heavens that murmur, the sounds that shine. 

The stars that sing and the loves that thunder, 
The music burning at heart like wine. 

An armed archangel whose hands raise up 

All senses nuxed in the spirit's cup 

Till flesh and spirit are molten in sunder — 
These things are over, and no more mine. 

These were a part of the playing I heard 
Once, ere my love and my heart were at strife; 

Love that sings and hath wings as a bird. 
Balm of the wound and heft of the knife. 



ALGERNON CHARLES SWINBURNE 383 

Fairer than earth is the sea, and sleep 
Than overwatching of eyes that weep, 
Now time has done with his one sweet word, 
The wine and leaven of lovely life. 

I shall go my ways, tread out my measure, 

Fill the days of my daily breath 
With fugitive things not good to treasure. 

Do as the world doth, say as it saith; 
But if we had loved each other — O sweet, 
Had you felt, lying under the palms of your feet. 
The heart of my heart, beating harder with pleasure 

To feel you tread it to dust and death — 

Ah, had I not taken my life up and given 

All that life gives and the years let go. 
The wine and honey, the balm and leaven. 

The dreams reared high and the hopes brought low? 
Come life, come death, not a word be said; 
Should I lose you living, and vex you dead? 
I never shall tell you on earth; and in heaven, 

K I cry to you then, will you hear or know? 



Rococo 

Take hands and part with laughter; 

Touch lips and part with tears; 
Once more and no more after, 

Whatever comes with years. 
We twain shall not remeasure 

The ways that left us twain; 
Nor crush the lees of pleasure 

From sanguine grapes of pain. 

We twain once well in simder. 
What will the mad gods do 

For hate with me, I wonder, 
Or what for love with you? 



384 THE ENGUSH POETS 

Forget them till November, 
And dream there 's April yet; 

Forget that I remember, 
And dream that I forget. 

Time found our tired love sleeping, 

And kissed away his breath; 
But what should we do weeping, 

Though light love sleep to death? 
We have drained his lips at leisure, 

Till there 's not left to drain 
A single sob of pleasure, 

A single pulse of pain. 

Dream that the Ups once breathless 

Might quicken if they would; 
Say that the soul is deathless; 

Dream that the gods are good; 
Say March may wed September, 

And the time divorce regret; 
But not that you remember. 

And not that I forget. 

We have heard from hidden places 

What love scarce lives and hears: 
We have seen on fervent faces 

The pallor of strange tears: 
We have trod the wine-vat*s treasure, 

Whence, ripe to steam and stain, 
Foams round the feet of pleasure 

The blood-red must of pain. 

Remembrance may recover 

And time bring back to time 
The name of your first lover, 

The ring of my first rhjrme; 
But rose-leaves of December 

The frosts of June shall fret 
The day that you remember, 

The day that I forget. 



ALGERNON CHARLES SWINBURNE 385 

The snake that hides and hisses 

In heaven we twain have known; 
The grief of cruel kisses, 

The joy whose mouth makes moan, 
The pulse's pause and measure, 

Where in one furtive vein 
Throbs through the heart of pleasure 

The purple blood of pain. 

We have done with tears and treasons, 

And love for treason's sake; 
Room for the swift new seasons, 

The years that bum and break, 
Dismantle and dismember 

Men's days and dreams, Juliette, 
For love may not remember. 

But time wiU not forget. 

Life treads down love in flying, 

Time withers him at root; 
Bring all dead things and dying, 

Reaped sheaf and ruined fruit. 
Where, crushed by three days' pressure, 

Our three days' love lies slain; 
And earlier leaf of pleasure. 

And latter flower of pain. 

Breathe close upon the ashes, 

It may be flame will leap; 
Unclose the soft close lashes. 

Lift up the lids, and weep. 
Light love's extinguished ember. 

Let one tear leave it wet 
For one that you remember 

And ten that you forget. 



386 THE ENGLISH POETS 



In Memory of Walter Savage Landor 

Back to the flower-town, side by side, 

The bright months bring, 
New-bom, the bridegroom and the bride, 

Freedom and spring. 

The sweet land laughs from sea to sea, 

Filled full of sun; 
All things come back to her, being free; 

All things but one. 

In many a tender wheaten plot 

Flowers that were dead 
Live, and old suns revive; but not 

That holier head. 

By this white wandering waste of sea, 

Far north, I hear 
One face shall never turn to me 

As once this year: 

Shall never smile and turn and rest 

On mine as there, 
Nor one most sacred hand be prest 

Upon my hair. 

I came as one whose thoughts half linger, 

Half run before; 
The youngest to the oldest singer 

That England bore. 

I found him whom I shall not find 

Till all grief end. 
In holiest age our mightiest mind, 

Father and friend. 

But thou, if anything endure, 

If hope there be, 
O spirit that man's life left pure, 

Man's death set free, 



ALGERNON CHARLES SWINBURNE 387 

Not with disdain of days that were 

Look earthward now; 
Let dreams revive the reverend hair, 

The imperial brow; 

Come back in sleep, for in the life 

Where thou art not 
We find none Uke thee. Time and strife 

And the world's lot 

Move thee no more; but love at least 

And reverent heart 
May move thee, royal and released 

Soul, as thou art. 

And thou, his Florence, to thy trust 

Receive and keep, 
Keep safe his dedicated dust, 

His sacred sleep. 

So shall thy lovers, come from afar. 

Mix with thy name 
As morning-star with evening-star 

His faultless fame. 



The GAia)EN or Proserpine 

Here, where the world is quiet, 
. Here, where all trouble seems 
Dead winds' and spent waves' riot 

In doubtful dreams of dreams, 
I watch the green field growing 
For reaping folk and sowing, 
For harvest-time and mowing, 

A sleepy world of streams. 

I am tired of tears and laughter. 
And men that laugh and weep. 

Of what may come hereafter 
For men that sow to reap: 



388 THE ENGLISH POETS 

I am weary of days and hours, 
Blown buds of barren flowers, 
Desires and dreams and powers, 
And everything but sleep. 

Here life has death for neighbour, 
And far from eye or ear 

Wan waves and wet winds labour, 
Weak ships and spirits steer; 

They drive adrift, and whither 

They wot not who make thither; 

But no such winds blow hither. 
And no such things grow here. 

No growth of moor or coppice. 

No heather-flower or vine. 
But bloomless buds of poppies. 

Green grapes of Proserpine, 
Pale beds of blowing rushes 
Where no leaf blooms or blushes, 
Save this whereout she crushes 
For dead men deadly wine. 

Pale, without name or niunber. 

In fruitless flelds of com. 
They bow themselves and slumber 

All night till light is bom; 
And like a soul belated, 
In hell and heaven immated. 
By cloud and mist abated 
Comes out of darkness mom. 

Though one were strong as seven, 
He too with death shall dwell, 

Nor wake with wings in heaven, 
Nor weep for pains in hell; 

Though one were fair as roses, 

His beauty clouds and closes; 

And well though love reposes. 
In the end it is not well. 



ALGERNON CHARLES SWINBURNE 389 

Pale, beyond porch and portal, 

Crowned with calm leaves, she stands 

Who gathers all things mortal 
With cold immortal hands; 

Her languid lips are sweeter 

Than love's who fears to greet her 

To men that mix and meet her 
From many times and lands. 

She waits for each and other. 

She waits for all men bom; 
Forgets the earth her mother, 

The life of fruits and com; 
And spring and seed and swallow 
Take wing for her and follow 
Where sunmier song rings hollow 

And flowers are put to scorn. 

There go the loves that wither, 

The old loves with wearier wings; 
And all dead years draw hither. 

And all disastrous things; 
Dead dreams of days forsaken. 
Blind buds that snows have shaken, 
Wild leaves that winds have taken, 

Red strays of ruined springs. 

We are not syre of sorrow, 

And joy was never sure; 
To-day will die to-morrow; 

Time stoops to no man's lure; 
And love, grown faint and fretful, 
With Ups but half regretful 
Sighs, and with eyes forgetful 

Weeps that no loves endure. 

From too much love of living. 

From hope and fear set free. 
We thank with brief thanksgiving 

Whatever gods may be. 



390 THE ENGUSH POETS 



That no life lives for ever; 

That dead men rise up never; 
I That even the weariest river 
/ Winds somewhere safe to sea. 

Then star nor sun shall waken, 
Nor any change of Hght: 

Nor sound of waters shaken, 
Nor any sound or sight: 

Nor wintry leaves nor vernal, 

Nor days nor things diurnal; 

Only the sleep eternal 
In an eternal night. 



Love at Sea 

We are in lovers land to-day; 

Where shall we go? 
Love, shall we start or stay, 

Or sail -or row? 
There 's many a wind and way. 
And never a May but May; 
We are in love's hand to-day; 

Where shall we go? 

Our land-wind is the breath 
Of sorrows kissed to death 

And joys that were; . 
Our ballast is a rose; 
Our way lies where God knows 

And love knows where. 
We are in love's hand to-day — 

Our seamen are fledged Loves, 
Our masts are bills of doves, 

Our decks fine gold; 
Our ropes are dead maids' hair, 
Our stores are love-shafts fair 

And manifold. 
We are in love's land to-day — 



ALGERNON CHARLES SWINBURNE 391 

Where shall we land you, sweet? 
On fields of strange men's feet, 

Or fields near home? 
Or where the fire-flowers.blow. 
Or where the flowers of snow ^ 

Or flowers of foam? ^^"^ 

We are in love's hand to-day — 

Land me, she says, where love 
Shows but one shaft, one dove. 

One heart, one hand. 
— ^A shore like that, my dear, 
Lies where no man will steer, 

No maiden land. 



Hendecasyllabics 

In the month of the long decline of roses 

I, beholding the summer dead before me. 

Set my face to the sea and journeyed silent. 

Gazing eagerly where above the sea-mark 

Flame as fierce as the fervid eyes of lions 

Half divided the eyehds of the simset; 

Till I heard as it were a noise of waters 

Moving tremulous under feet of angels 

Multitudinous, out of all the heavens; 

Knew the fluttering wind, the fluttered foUage, 

Shaken fitfully, full of sound and shadow; 

And saw, trodden upon by noiseless angels. 

Long mysterious reaches fed with moonlight, 

Sweet sad straits in a soft subsiding channel, 

Blown about by the lips of winds I knew not. 

Winds not bom in the north nor any quarter, 

Winds not warm with the south nor any simshine; 

Heard between them a voice of exultation, 

"Lo, the simmier is dead, the sun is faded, 

Even like as a leaf the year is withered, 

All the fruits of the day from all her branches 

Gathered, neither is any left to gather. 

All the flowers are dead, the tender blossoms, 



392 THE ENGUSH POETS 

All are taken away; the season wasted, 

Like an ember among the fallen ashes. 

Now with light of the winter days, with moonlight. 

Light of snow, and the bitter li^t of hoarfrost, 

We bring flowers that fade not after autunm. 

Pale white chaplets and crowns of latter seasons, 

Fair false leaves (but the summer leaves were falser), 

Woven under the eyes of stars and planets 

When low light was upon the windy reaches 

Where the flower of foam was blown, a lily 

Dropt among the sonorous fruitless furrows 

And green fields of the sea that make no pasture: 

Since the winter begins, the weeping winter. 

All whose flowers are tears, and roimd his temples 

Iron blossom of frost is bound for ever." 



[From Songs before Sunrise] 

From "Hertha" 

The tree many-rooted 

That swells to the sky 
With frondage red-fruited. 
The life- tree am I; 
In the buds of your lives is the sap of my leaves: ye shall live and 
not die. 

But the Gods of your fashion 

That take and that give. 
In their pity and passion 
That scourge and forgive. 
They are worms that are bred in the bark that falls off; they shall 
die and not live. 

My own blood is what stanches 

The woimds in my bark; 
Stars caught in my branches 
Make day of the dark. 
And are worshipped as suns till the sunrise shall tread out their 
fires as a spark. 



ALGERNON CHARLES SWINBURNE 393 

Where dead ages hide under 

The live roots of the tree, 

In my darkness the thunder 

Makes utterance of me; 

In the clash of my boughs with each other ye hear the waves sound 

of the sea. 

That noise is of Time, 

As his feathers are spread 
And his feet set to climb 
Through the boughs overhead, 
And my foliage rings roimd him and rustles, and branches are 
bent with his tread. 

The storm-winds of ages 

Blow through me and cease. 
The war-wind that rages. 
The spring-wind of peace, 
Ere the breath of them roughen my tresses, ere one of my blossoms 
increase. 

All sounds of all changes, 
All shadows and lights 
On the world^s mountain-ranges 
And stream-riven heights, 
Whose tongue is the wind's tongue and language of storm-clouds 
on earth-shaking nights; 

All forms of all faces, 

All works of all hands 
In imsearchable places 
Of time-stricken lands, 
All death and all life, and all reigns and all ruins, drop through 
me as sands. 

Though sore be my burden 
And more than ye know, 
And my growth have no guerdon 
But only to grow, 
Yet I fail not of growing for lightnings above me or death-worms 
below. 



394 THE ENGLIS H POETS 

These too have their part in me, 

As I too in these; 
Such fire is at heart in me, 
Such sap is this tree's. 
Which hath in it all sounds and all secrets of infinite lands and of 
seas. 

In the spring-coloured hours 

When my mind was as May's, 
There brake forth of me flowers 
By centuries of days. 
Strong blossoms with perfume of manhood, shot out from my 
spirit as rays. 

And the sound of them springing 

And the smell of their shoots 
Were as warmth and sweet singing 
And strength to my roots; 
And the lives of my children made perfect with freedom of soul 
were my fruits. 

I bid you but be; 

I have need not of prayer; 
I have need of you free 
As your mouths of mine air; 
That my heart may be greater within me, beholding the fruits 
of me fair. 

More fair than strange fruit is 

Of faiths ye espouse; 
In me only the root is 
That blooms in your boughs; 
Behold now your God that ye made you, to feed him with faith of 
your vows. 

In the darkening and whitening 

Abysses adored. 
With dayspring and lightning 
^ For lamp and for sword, 

<^od thunders in heaven, and his angels are red with the wrath of 
the Lord. 



ALGERNON CHARLES SWINBURNE 395 

O my sons, O too dutiful 

Toward Gods not of me, 

Was not I enough beautiful? 

Was it hard to be free? 

For behold, I am with you, am in you and of you; look forth now 

and see. 

Lo, winged with world's wonders. 

With miracles shod, 
With the fires of his thimders 
For raiment and rod, 
Grod trembles in heaven, and his angels are white with the terror 
of God. 

For his twilight is come on him. 

His anguish is here; 
And his spirits gaze dumb on him. 
Grown grey from his fear; 
And his hour taketh hold on Mm stricken, the last of his infinite 
year. 

Thought made him and breaks him, 

Truth slays and forgives; 
But to you, as time takes him. 
This new thing it gives, 
Even love, the beloved Republic, that feeds upon freedom and 
lives. 

For truth only is living, 
Truth only is whole, 
And the love of his giving 
Man's polestar and pole; 
Man, pulse of my centre, and fruit of my body, and seed of my 
soul. 

One birth of my bosom; 

One beam of mine eye; 
One topmost blossom 
That scales the sky; 
Man, equal and one with me, man that is made of me, man that . 
is I. 



396 THE ENGUSH POETS 



The Oblation 

Ask nothing more of me, sweet; 
All I can give you I give. 
Heart of my heart, were it more 
More would be laid at your feet: 
Love that should help you to live, 
Song that should spur you to soar. 

All things were nothing to give 
Once to have sense of you more. 
Touch you and taste of you, sweet, 
Think you and breathe you and live. 
Swept of your wings as they soar. 
Trodden by chance of your feet. 

I that have love and no more 
Give you but love of you, sweet: 
He that hath more, let him give; 
He that hath wings, let him soar; 
Mine is the heart at your feet 
Here, that must love you to live. 



From "Mater Triumphaus" 

I do not bid thee spare me, O dreadful mother! 

I pray thee that thou spare not, of thy grace. 
How were it with me then, if ever another 

Should come to stand before thee in this my place? 

I am the trumpet at thy lips, thy clarion 
Full of thy cry, sonorous with thy breath; 

The graves of souls bom worms and creeds grown carrion 
Thy blast of judgment fills with fires of death. 

Thou art the player whose organ-keys are thunders, 

And I beneath thy foot the pedal prest; 
Thou art the ray whereat the rent night sunders. 

And I the cloudlet borne upon thy breast. 



ALGERNON CHARLES SWINBURNE 397 

I shall bum up before thee, pass and perish, 

As haze in sunrise on the red sea-line; 
But thou from dawn to sunsetting shalt cherish 

The thoughts that led and souls that lighted mine. 

Reared between night and noon and truth and error, 
Each twilight-travelling bird that trills and screams 

Sickens at midday, nor can face for terror 
The imperious heaven's inevitable extremes. 

I have no spirit of skill with equal fingers 

At sign to sharpen or to slacken strings; 
I keep no time of song with gold-perched singers 

And chirp of linnets on the wrists of kings. 

I am thy storm-thrush of the dajrs that darken, 
Thy petrel in the foam that bears thy bark 

To port through night and tempest; if thou hearken, 
My voice is in thy heaven before the lark. 

My song is in the mist that hides thy morning. 

My cry is up before the day for thee; 
I have heard thee and beheld thee and give warning, 

Before thy wheels divide the sky and sea. 

Birds shall wake with thee voiced and feathered fairer. 

To see in smnmer what I see in spring; 
I have eyes and heart to endure thee, O thimder-bearer. 

And they shall be who shall have tongues to sing. 

I have love at least, and have not fear, and part not 

From thine unnavigable and wingless way; 
Thou tarriest, and I have not said thou art not, 

Nor all thy night long have denied thy day. 

Darkness to daylight shall lift up thy paean. 

Hill to hill thunder, vale cry back to vale, 
With wind-notes as of eagles iEschylean, 

And Sappho singing in the nightkigale. 



398 THE ENGUSH POETS 

Sung to by mighty sons of dawn and daughters, 
Of this night's songs thine ear shall keep but one; 

That supreme song which shook the channelled waters, 
And called thee skyward as God calls the sun. 

Come, though all heaven again be fire above thee; 

Though death before thee come to clear thy sky; 
Let us but see in his thy face who love thee; 

Yea, though thou slay us, arise and let us die. 



Cor Cordium 

O heart of hearts, the chalice of love's fire. 
Hid round with flowers and all the bounty of bloom; 
O wonderful and perfect heart, for whom 

The lyrist Liberty made life a lyre; 

O heavenly heart, at whose most dear desire 
Dead Love, living and singing, cleft his tomb. 
And with him risen and regent in death's room 

All day thy choral pulses rang full choir; 

O heart whose beating blood was running song, 
O sole thing sweeter than thine own songs were, 
Help us for thy free love's sake to be free, 

True for thy truth's sake, for thy strength's sake strong. 
Till very liberty make clean and fair 
The nursing earth as the sepulchral sea. 



From the Epilogue to "Songs before Sunrise" 

As one that ere a June day rise 

Makes seaward for the dawn, and tries 
The water with delighted limbs 
That taste the sweet dark sea, and swims 

Right eastward under strengthening skies. 
And sees the gradual rippling rims 

Of waves whence day breaks blossom-wise 
Take fire ere light peer well above, 
And laughs from all his heart with love; 



ALGERNON CHARLES SWINBURNE 399 

And softlier swimming with raised head 
Feels the full flower of morning shed 

And fluent sunrise round him rolled 

That laps and laves his body bold 
With fluctuant heaven in water's stead, 

And urgent through the growing gold 
Strikes, and sees all the spray flash red, 

And his soul takes the sun, and yearns 

For joy wherewith the sea's heart biuns; 

So the soul seeking through the dark 
Heavenward, a dove without an ark, 

Transcends the unnavigable sea 

Of years that wear out memory; 
So calls, a sunward-singing lark. 

In the ear of souls that should be free; 
So points them toward the sun for mark 

Who steer not for the stress of waves, 

And seek strange helmsmen, and are slaves. 

For if the swimmer's eastward eye 
Must see no sunrise — ^must put by 

The hope that lifted him and led 

Once, to have light about his head, 
To see beneath the clear low sky 

The green foam-whitened wave wax red 
And all the morning's banner fly — 

Then, as earth's helpless hopes go down. 

Let earth's self in the dark tides drown. 

Yea, if no morning must behold 
Man, other than were they now cold. 

And other deeds than past deeds done, 

Nor any near or far-off sun 
Salute him risen and simlike-souled, 

Free, boundless, fearless, perfect, one, 
Let man's world die h'ke worlds of old, 

And here in heaven's sight only be 

The sole s\m on the worldless sea. 



400 THE ENGLISH POETS 

[From Erechtheus] 
Chthonia to Athens 

I lift up mine eyes from the skirts of the shadow, 
From the border of death to the Umits of light; 

O streams and rivers of moimtain and meadow, 
That hallow the last of my sight, 

O father that wast of my mother, 

Cephisus, O thou too his brother 

From the bloom of whose banks as a prey 

Winds harried my sister away, 

O crown on the worid's head lying 
Too high for its waters to drown, 

Take yet this one word of me dying — 

city, O crown. 

Though land-wind and sea-wind with mouths that blow slaughter 

Should gird them to battle against thee again, 
New-bom of the blood of a maiden thy daughter. 

The rage of their breath shall be vain. 
For their strength shall be quenched and made idle, 
And the foam of their moutis find a bridle, 
And the height of their heads bow down 
At the foot of the towers of the town. 
Be blest and beloved as I love thee 

Of all that shall draw from thee breath; 
Be thy life as the sun^s is above thee; 

1 go to my death. 

[From Poems and Ballads. Second Series] 
A Forsaken Garden 

In a coign of the cliff between lowland and highland, 
At the sea-down's edge between windward and lee, 

Walled round with rocks as an inland island. 
The ghost of a garden fronts the sea. 

A girdle of brushwood and thorn encloses 
The steep square slope of the blossomless bed 

Where the weeds that grew green from the graves of its roses 
Now lie dead. 



ALGERNON CHARLES SWINBURNE 401 

The fields fall southward, abrupt and broken, 

To the low last edge of the long lone land. 
If a step should sound or a word be spoken, 

Would a ghost not rise at the strange guest's hand? 
So long have the grey bare walls lain guestless, 

Through branches and briers if a man make way. 
He shall find no life but the sea-wind's, restless 
Night and day. 

The dense hard passage is blind and stifled 

That crawls by a track none turn to climb 
To the strait waste place that the years have rifled 

Of all but the thorns that are touched not of time. 
The thorns he spares when the rose is taken; 

The rocks are left when he wastes the plain. 
The wind that wanders, the weeds wind-shaken — 
These remain. 

Not a flower to be pressed of the foot that falls not; 

As the heart of a dead man the seed-plots are dry; 
From the thicket of thorns whence the nightingale calls not, 

Could she call, there were never a rose to reply. 
Over the meadows that blossom and wither 

Rings but the note of a sea-bird's song; 
Only the sun and the rain come hither 
All year long. 

The sun bums sere and the rain dishevels 
One gaunt bleak blossom of scentless breath. 

Only the wind here hovers and revels 
In a round where life seems barren as death. 

Here there was laughin^f olc^ there was weeping. 
Haply, of lovers noneever will know, 

Whose eyes went seaward a hundred sleeping 
Years ago. 

Heart handfast in heart as they stood, "Look thither," 
Did he whisper? "look forth from the flowers to the sea; 

For the foam-flowers endure when the rose-blossoms wither. 
And men that love lightly may die — ^but we? " 



402 THE ENGUSH POETS 

And the same wind sang and the same waves whitened, 

And or ever the garden's last petals were shed, 
In the lips that had whispered, the eyes that had lightened. 
Love was dead. 



Or they loved their life through, and then went whither? 

And were one to the end — ^but what end who knows? 
Love deep as the sea as a rose must wither, 

As the rose-red seaweed that mocks the rose. 
Shall the dead take thought for the dead to love them? 

What love was ever as deep as a grtive? 
They are loveless now as the grass above them 
Or the wave. 

All are at one now, roses and lovers, 

Not known of the chffs and the fields and the sea. 
Not a breath of the time that has been hovers 

In the air now soft with a siunmer to be. 
Not a breath shall there sweeten the seasons hereafter 

Of the flowers or the lovers that laugh now or weep, 
When as they that are free now of weeping and laughter 
We shall sleep. 

Here death may deal not again for ever; 

Here change may come not till all change end. 
From the graves they have made they shall rise up never 

Who have left nought living to ravage and rend. 
Earth, stones, and thorns of the wild ground growing, 

While the sun and the rain live, these shall be; 
Till a last wind's breath upon all these blowing 
Roll the sea. 

Till the slow sea rise and the sheer cliff crumble. 
Till terrace and meadow the deep gulfs drink. 

Till the strength of the waves of the high tides humble 
The fields that lessen, the rocks that shrink. 

Here now in his triumph where all things falter. 
Stretched out on the spoils that his own hand spread, 

As a god self-slain on his own strange altar. 
Death lies dead. 



ALGERNON CHARLES SWINBURNE 403 

[From Poems and Ballads. Third Series] 
From "Pan and Thalassius" 

thalassius 

Pan! 

Pan! 
O sea-stray, seed of Apollo, 

What word wouldst thou have with me? 
My ways thou wast fain to follow 
Or ever the years hailed thee 
Man. 

Now 
If August brood on the valleys, 
If sat3nrs laugh on the lawns, 
What part in the wildwood alleys 
Hast thou with the fleet-foot fauns — 
Thou? 

See! 
Thy feet are a man's — ^not cloven 
Like these, not light as a boy's: 
The tresses and tendrils inwoven 
That lure us, the lure of them cloys 
Thee. 

Us 

The joy of the wild woods never 

Leaves free of the thirst it slakes: 
The wild love throbs in us ever 

That bums in the dense hot brakes 
Thus. 

Life, 
Eternal, passionate, aweless. 
Insatiable, mutable, dear. 
Makes all men's laws for us lawless: 
We strive not: how should we iear 
Strife? 



404 THE ENGLISH POETS 

We, 

The birds and the bright winds know not 
Such joys as are ours in the mild 

Wann woodland; joys such as grow not 
In waste green fields of the wild 
Sea. 

No; 
Long since, in the world's wind veering, 

Thy heart was estranged from me: 
Sweet Echo shall yield thee not hearing: 
What have we to do with thee? 
Go. 

A Reiver's Neck-Verse 

Some die singing, and some die swinging, 

And weel mot a' they be: 
Some die playing, and some die prajdng, 

And I wot sae winna we, my dear, 

And I wot sae winna we. 

Some die sailing, and some die wailing. 
And some die fair and free: 

Some die flyting, and some die fighting. 
But I for a fause love's fee, my dear. 
But I for a fause love's fee. 

Some die laughing, and some die quafiling. 
And some die high on tree: 

Some die spinning, and some die sinning. 
But faggot and fire for ye, my dear. 
Faggot and fire for ye. 

Some die weeping, and some die sleeping. 
And some die under the sea: 

Some die ganging, and some die hanging, 
And a twine of a tow for me, my dear, 
A twine of a tow for me. 



ALGERNON CHARLES SWINBURNE 405 

[From Tristram of Lyonesse] 

Prelude 

Tristram and Iseult 

Love, that is first and last of all things made, 

The light that has the living world for shade. 

The spirit that for temporal veil has on 

The souls of all men woven in unison, 

One fiery raiment with all lives inwrought 

And lights of sunny and starry deed and thought, 

And always through new act and passion new 

Shines the divine same body and beauty through. 

The body spiritual of fire and light 

That is to worldly noon as noon to light; 

Love, that is flesh upon the spirit of man 

And spirit within the flesh whence breath began; 

Love, that keeps all the choir of hves in chime; 

Love, that is blood within the veins of time; 

That wrought the whole world without stroke of hand. 

Shaping the breadth of sea, the length of land. 

And with the pulse and motion of his breath 

Through the great heart of the earth strikes life and death, 

The sweet twain chords that make the sweet tune live 

Thitough day and night of things alternative, 

Through silence and through sound of stress and strife. 

And ebb and flow of dying death and life; 

Love, that sounds loud or light in all men's ears, 

Whence all men 's eyes take fire from sparks of tears. 

That binds on all men's feet or chains or wings; 

Love, that is root and fruit of terrene things; 

Love, that the whole world's waters shall not drown. 

The whole world's fiery forces not bum down; 

Love, that what time his own hands guard his head 

The whole world's wrath and strength shall not strike dead; 

Love, that if once his own hands make his grave 

The whole world's pity and sorrow shall not save; 

Love, that for very life shall not be sold. 



4o6 THE ENGLISH POETS 

Nor bought nor bound with iron nor with gold; 
So strong that heaven, could love bid heaven farewell, 
Would turn to fruitless and unflowering hell; 
So sweet that hell, to hell could love be given, 
Would turn to splendid and sonorous heaven; 
Love that is fire within three and light above. 
And lives by grace of nothing but of love; 
Through many and lovely thoughts and much desire 
Led these twain to the life of tears and fire; 
Through many and lovely days and much delight 
Led these twain to the lifeless life of night. 



A Child's Laughter 

All the bells of heaven may ring, 
All the birds of heaven may sing. 
All the wells on earth may spring. 
All the winds on earth may bring 

All sweet sounds together; 
Sweeter far than all things heard, 
Hand of harper, tone of bird, 
Sound of woods at sundawn stirred, 
Welling water's winsome word. 

Wind in warm wan weather. 

One thing yet there is, that none 
Hearing ere its chime be done 
Knows not well the sweetest one 
Heard of man beneath the sun, 

Hoped in heaven hereafter; 
Soft and strong and loud and light, 
Very sound of very light 
Heard from morning's rosiest height, 
When the soul of all delight 

Fills a child's clear laughter. 

Golden bells of welcome rolled 
Never forth such notes, nor told 



ALGERNON CHARLES SWINBURNE 407 

Hours so blithe in tones so bold, 
As the radiant mouth of gold 

Here that rings forth heaven. 
If the golden-crested wren 
Were a nightingale — ^why, then, 
Something seen and heard of men 
Might be half as sweet as when 

Laughs a child of seven. 



THOMAS EDWARD BROWN 

[Born at Douglas in the Isle of Man on May 5, 1830. Took a Double 
First Class at Oxford, and became Fellow of Oriel. One of the original 
staff of masters at Clifton (from 1864), and on retiring in 1892 returned to 
the Isle of Man. Died suddenly at Clifton, October 29, 1897. Poems: 
Betsy LeCj a Fo^c^sHe Yarny 1873; Fo^c^s^le Yarns (including Beisy Lee and 
others), 1881; The Doctor and other Poems, 1887; The Manx Witch and 
other Poems, iSSg; Kitty of the Sherragh Vane and The Schoolmasters^ 1891 ; 
Old John and other Poems, 1893; Collected Poems, 1900; Select Poems 
{Golden Treasury Series), 1908.] 

The volume and range of. Brown's poetry is so great that it is 
hard to do it justice within the limits of such a selection as this. In 
the illuminating essay prefixed by his friend Mr. H. F. Brown to 
the selection in the Golden Treasury Series it is well said that " in 
his spiritual moods Brown is constantly reminding us of George 
Herbert, Sir Thomas Browne, Wordsworth, Blake, yet it is one of 
the signatures of his genuineness as a poet that the note is never 
identical; it is always the note of Brown himself, in harmony — ^yes, 
but not in unison." That is eminently true of his lyrical and reflec- 
tive poems, but these after all are small in bulk compared to the 
Fo^c^s'le Yarns and other narrative poems, mainly in the Manx 
dialect, with which he first made his reputation. These are entirely 
his own and give him a distinctive place among our national poets. 

The narrator in nearly all the tales is a fisherman, Tom Bajoies, 
and many of the same characters recur. Brown used to say that 
he was hhnself Tom Baynes, and it is evident enough that through 
his lips, and in his racy speech, the poet was constantly giving 
utterance to his own ideas, though we may also detect tie same 
unconsciously self-revealing note in his "Pazon Gale" (partly 
drawn from his own father) and in Doctor Bell. These two por- 
traits from The Doctor are surely characteristic of Brown himself 
and of his attitude to his fellow men. 

"Man to man — ^aye, that's your size. 
That *s the thing that 'U make you wise 



THOMAS EDWARD BROWN 409 

That *s the plan that '11 cany the day— 

Lovin* is understanding — eh? 

Lovin' is understandin^ Well, 

He'd a lovin' ould heart, had Docthor Bell." 



and 



"The Pazon? Yes! aw, yes! well, maybe — 

Aw, innocent! innocent as a baby. 

And good and true; but, for all, a man 

Is a man, and I don't know will you understan', 

But you know there 's people's goin' that good 

They haven't a smell for the steam of the blood 

That 's in a man; or, if they have, 

They houlds their noses, and makes belave 

Theyhav'n'. But the Pazon— no! 

True and kind; and the ebb and the flow 

Of all men's hearts went through and through him— 

The sweet ould man, if you'd only knew him!" 

This note of human sympathy runs through all these tales of the 
tragedies and humours of love, and amid the almost boisterous flow 
of the narrative breaks out now and again into passages of the 
utmost tenderness. As to the manner of telling, with its rapid 
twists and turns, its constant asides, its scraps of dialogue, the 
reader who would appreciate it must let himself go as the writer 
does, and will then be amply rewarded. To some the dialect will 
always be a bar, but there is no doubt that it adds to the raciness 
and dramatic force of the impression. At any rate, for those impa- 
tient of dialect the two touching stories of Mary Qtiayle and Bdla 
Gorryy told in ordinary English, will reveal something of the poet's 
narrative gift. 

Even in the tales there are many indications of the poet's sym- 
pathy not only with man, but with Nature in all her moods, and of 
his faith, amid all questionings, in the Divine Love which controls 
the universe. These feelings, however, find more definite expres- 
sion in the lyrics, of which some examples follow, while it is all but 
impossible here to give extracts from the narratives which would 
really do them justice. 

As to the lyrics, on the deeper theme of man's relation to his 
Creator light is thrown by the remarkable dialogue entitled Dart- 
moor, in which the boldness of treatment does not mar its essen- 



4IO THE ENGLISH POETS 

tiaJ reverence. In Aber Stations we have the prolonged heart's 
cry of a father who has lost a little son, ending on a note of pious 
resignation. In Old John is given a charming portrait of an old 
Scotchman, touched with special sympathy by the fact that the 
writer "also had a root in Scottish ground" (Brown's mother was 
Scotch), and following it comes a companion portrait of a Manx- 
man, Chaise A. Killey, full of tenderness and humour. In the de- 
lightful Epistola ad Dakyns we are told of " the three places" which 
had a special hold on the poet's heart, Clifton, Derwentwater, and 
his beloved Isle of Man. These, and the exquisite Lynton Verses, 
are, alas! too long to quote, though I would fain have found room 
for the Symphony which doses the last-named series; but no one 
who wishes to appreciate Brown's genius should forgo the pleasure 
of reading these and many more. Of the shorter lyrics I have done 
my best to give typical examples. 

The poems as a whole reveal a man of strong personality, which 
found its readiest expression in poetry, for he seems to have been 
reserved in ordinary intercourse. Thus we are told by H. F. Brown 
that in his twenty-eight years at CUfton he left "a deep imprint on 
the school, but the inner man was withdrawn into the sacred re- 
cesses of his family affections, his long and solitary musings on the 
downs, and the steady accumulations of his poems, abotU which I 
believe he seldom spoke, though the calm and assurance with which 
he forged ahead dearly indicate that in literature lay his true life's 
work." He was eminently a scholar, with a deep love of the 
dassics, and espedally of Greek ("Ah, sir," he said once, "that 
Greek stuff penetrates**), and this is shown in the careful finish of 
many of his lyrics. 

It was in his beloved island that he spent the last five years of 
his life, but it was perhaps a happy fate which brought it to a 
sudden dose when on October 29, 1897, he was in the act of deliver- 
ing one of those stimulating addresses to the boys at Clifton which 
his old colleagues and pupils so vividly remember. For fuller 
estimates of Brown's character and genius the reader is referred 
to W. E. Henley's Introduction to the Complete Poems, and to 
Mr. Horatio Brown's preface to the Golden Treasury selections. 

George A. Macmillan. 



THOMAS EDWARD BROWN 411 



Braddan Vicarage 

I wonder if in that fair isle, 

Some child is growing now, like me 
When I was child: care-pricked, yet healed the while 

With balm of rock and sea. 

I wonder if the purple ring 

That rises on a belt of blue 
Provokes the little bashful thing 

To guess what may ensue, 
When he has pierced the screen, and holds the further due. 

I wonder if beyond the verge 

He dim conjectures England's coast: 
The land of Edwards and of Henries, scourge 

Of insolent foemen, at the most 
Faint caught where Cumbria looms a geographic ghost. 

I wonder if to him the sycamore 

Is full of green and tender light; 
K the gnarled ash stands stunted at the door, 

By salt sea-blast defrauded of its right; 
If budding larches feed the hunger of his sight. 

I wonder if to him the dewy globes 

Like mercury nestle in the caper leaf; 
If, when the white narcissus dons its robes, 

It soothes his childish grief; 
If silver plates the birch, gold rustles in the sheaf. 

I wonder if to him the heath-clad mountain 
With crimson pigment fills the sensuous cells; 

If Uke full bubbles from an emerald fountain 
Gorse-bloom luxuriant wells; 

If God with trenchant forms the insolent lushness quells. 



412 THE ENGUSH POETS 

I wonder if he loves that Captain bold 

Who has the horny hand, 
Who swears the mighty oath, who well can hold, 

Half-drunk, serene command, 
And guide his straining bark to refuge of the land. 

I wonder if he thinks the world has aught 

Of strong, or nobly wise, 
Like him by whom the invisible land is caught 

With instinct true, nor storms, nor midnight skies 
Avert the settled aim, or daunt the keen emprise. 

I wonder if he deems the English men 

A higher type beyond his reach, 
Imperial blood, by Heaven ordained with pen 

And sword the populous world to teach; 
If awed he hears the tones as of an alien speech; 



Ah! crude, undisciplined, when thou shalt know 
What good is in this England, still of joys 

The chiefest count it thou wast nurtured so 
That thou may'st keep the larger equipoise. 

And stand outside these nations and their noise. 



Scarlett Rocks 

I thought of life, the outer and the inner, 

As I was walking by the sea: 
How vague, unshapen this, and that, though thinner. 

Yet hard and clear in its rigidity. 
Then took I up the fragment of a shell. 

And saw its accurate loveliness, 
And searched its filmy lines, its pearly cell, 

And all that keen contention to express 
A finite thought. And then I recognised 

God's working in the shell from root to rim, 
And said: — "He works till He has realised — 

O Heaven! if I could only work like Him!" 



THOMAS EDWARD BROWN 413 

Clifton 

I'm here at Clifton, grinding at the mill 

My feet for thrice nine barren years have trod; 

But there are rocks and waves at Scarlett still, 
And gorse runs riot in Glen Chass — thank God! 

Alert, I seek exactitude of rule, 

I step, and square my shoulders with the squad; 
But there are blaeberries on old Bamile, 

And Langness has its heather still — thank God! 

There is no silence here: the truculent quack 

Insists with acrid shriek my ears to prod. 
And, if I stop them, fumes; but there 's no lack 

Of silence still on Carraghyn — thank God! 

Pragmatic fibs surround my soul, and bate it 
With measured phrase, that asks the assenting nod; 

I rise,, and say the bitter thing, and hate it — 
But Wordsworth's castle 's still at Peel — thank God! 

O broken Hfe! O wretched bits of being, 
Unrhythmic, patched, the even and the odd! 

But Bradda still has lichens worth the seeing, 
And thunder in her caves — thank God! thank God! 



The Intercepted Salute 

A little maiden met me in the lane. 

And smiled a smile so very fain. 

So full of trust and happiness, 

I could not choose but bless 

The child, that she shoxild have such grace 

To laugh into my face. 

She never could have known me; but I thought 
It was the common joy that wrought 
Within the little creature's heart. 
As who should say: — "Thou art 



414 THE ENGUSH POETS 

As I; the heaven is bright above us; 

And there is God to love us. 

And I am but a little gleeful maid, 

And thou art big, and old, and staid; 

But the blue hills have made thee mild 

As is a little child. 

Wherefore I laugh that thou may'st see — 

O, laugh! O, laugh with me!" 

A pretty challenge! Then I turned me round, 

And straight the sober truth I found. 

For I was not alone; behind me stood, 

Beneath his load of wood. 

He that of right the smile possessed — 

Her father manifest. 

O, blest be God! that such an overplus 

Of joy is given to us: 

That that sweet innocent 

Gave me the gift she never meant, 

A gift secure and permanent! 

For, howsoever the smile had birth. 

It is an added glory on the earth. 



[From Tommy Big-Eyes] 

Bach's Fugues 

Fuge — dear heart! 

What a start! 

Well, obsarve! away goes a scrap, 

Just a piece of a tune, like a little chap 

That runs from his mammy; but mind the row 

There '11 be about that chap just now! 

OflF he goes! but whether or not. 

The mother is after him like a shot — 

Run, you rascal, the fast you 're able! 

But she nearly nabs him at the gable; 

But missin' him after all: and then 

He 'U give her the imperince of sin: 



THOMAS EDWARD BROWN 415 

And he '11 duck and he '11 dive, and he '11 dodge and he '11 dip, 

And he '11 make a run, and he '11 give her the sUp, 

And back again, and tumin' and mockin', 

And imitatin' her most shockin'. 

Every way she 's movin', you know: 

That 's just the way this tune '11 go; 

Imitatin', changin', hidin', 

Doublin' upon itself, dividin' 

And other tunes comin' wantin' to dance with it, 

But haven't the very smallest chance with it — 

It 's that slippy and swivel — up, up, up! 

Down, down, down! the h'ttle pup — 

Friskin', whiskin'; and then as solemn, 

Like marchin' in a double column. 

Like a funeral: or, rather. 

If you 'U think of this imp, it 's like the father 

Comin' out to give it him, and his heavy feet 

Soimdin' like thunder on the street. 

And he 's caught at last, and they all sing out 

Like the very mischief, and dance and shout. 

And caper away there most surprisin'. 

And ends in a terrible rejisin'. 

That 's Backs, that 's fuges — aw, that 's fine — 

But never mind! never mind! 



[From Cleoedon Verses] 

Norton Wood (Dora's Birthday) 

In Norton wood the sun was bright. 

In Norton wood the air was light, 

And meek anemonies. 

Kissed by the April breeze, 

Were trembling left and right. 

Ah, vigorous year! 

Ah, primrose dear 

With smile so arch! 

Ah, budding larch! 

Ah, hyacinth so blue, 

We also must make free with you! 



41 6 THE ENGUSH POETS 

Where are those cowslips hiding? 

But we should not be diiding — 

The ground is covered every inch— 

What sayest, master finch? 

I see you on the swaying bough! 

And very neat you are, I vow! 

And Dora says it is "the happiest day!" 

Her birthday y hers! 

And there 's a jay, 

And from that climip of firs 

Shoots a great pigeon, purple, blue, and gray. 

And, coming home. 

Well-laden, as we clomb 

Sweet Walton hill, 

A cuckoo shouted with a will — 

"Cuckoo! cuckoo!" the first weVe heard! 

" Cuckoo ! cuckoo ! " God bless the bird ! 

Scarce time to take his breath. 

And now "Cuckoo!" he saith — 

Cuckoo! cuckoo! three cheers! 

And let the welkin ring! 

He has not folded wing 

Since last he saw Algiers. 



Moiyjiw.riov 
For J. P. 

It was in pleasant Derbyshire, 

Upon a bright spring day. 
From a valley to a valley 

I sought to find a way; 
And I met a little lad, 

A lad both bhthe and bold; 
And his eyes were of the blue. 

And his hair was of the gold. 
"Ho! little lad, of yonder point 

The name come quickly tell!" 
Then, prompt as any echo, 

Came the answer:— "Tap o' th' hill." 



THOMAS EDWARD BROWN 417 

"But has it any other name 

That a man may say — as thus — 
Kinder scout, or Fmrhrook Naze? " 

Then said the child, with constant gaze: — 
" Tap 0' tk' kill it gets with us." 

"Yes, yes!" I said, "but has it not 

Some other name as well? 
Its own, you know?" "Aye, aye?" he said, 

"Tap o' th' hiU! tap o^ th' hiUI" 
"But your father, now? how calls it he?" 

Tlien clear as is a beU 
Rang out the merry laugh: — "Of course, 

Hecallsitra#o'/A'Ai///" 
So I saw it was no use; 

But I said within myself: — 
"He has a wholesome doctrine. 

This cheerful Httle elf." 
And O, the weary knowledge! 

And O, the hearts that swell! 
And O, the blessed limit — 

"Tap o' th' hiU! tap o' th' hiUI" 



Boccaccio 

Boccaccio, for you laughed all laughs that are — 
The Cynic scoff, the chuckle of the churl, 
The laugh that ripples over reefs of pearl, 
The broad, the sly, the hugely jocular; 
Men call you lewd, and coarse, allege you mar 
The music that, withdrawn your ribald skirl. 
Were sweet as note of mavis or of merle — 
Wherefore they frown, and rate you at the bar. 

One thing is proved: To count the sad degrees 
Upon the Plague's dim dial, catch the tone 
Of a great death that lies upon a land. 
Feel nature's ties, yet hold with steadfast hand 
The diamond, you are three that stand alone — 
You, and Lucretius, and Thucydides. 



4l8 THE ENGLISH POETS 



O God, to Thee I Yield 

God, to Thee I yield 

The gift Thou givest most precious, most divine! 
Yet to what field 

1 must resign 
His little feet 

That wont to be so fleet, 

I muse. O, joy to think 

On what soft brink 

Of flood he plucks the daffodils. 

On what empurpled hills 

He stands, Thy kiss all fresh upon his brow. 

And wonders, if his father sees him now! 



My Gaiujen 

A garden is a lovesome thing, God wot! 

Rose plot. 

Fringed pool, 

Femed grot — 

The veriest school 

Of peace; and yet the fool 

Contends that God is not — 

Not God! in gardens! when the eve is cool? 

Nay, but I have a sign; 

'Tis very sure God walks in mine. 



Specula 

When He appoints to meet thee, go thou forth- 

It matters not 
If south or north. 

Bleak waste or sunny plot. 
Nor think, if haply He thou seek'st be late, 

He does thee wrong. 



THOMAS EDWARD BROWN 419 

To stile or gate 

Lean thou thy head, and long! 
It may be that to spy thee He is mounting 

Upon a tower, 
Or in diy coimting 

Thou hast mistaken the hour. 
But, if He come not, neither do thou go 

Till Vesper chime. 
Belike thou then shalt know 

He hath been with thee all the time. 



LORD DE TABLEY 

[John Byrne Leicester Warren was bom at Tabley House, Cheshire, 
on April 26, 1835, and succeeded to his title in 1887. He was a dis- 
tinguished bibliophil, numismatist, and botanist, being a leading au- 
thority on brambles. Always of secluded habits, he spent his later years 
in dose retirement, and died at Ryde on November 22, 1895. His earlier 
books of poems were published imder the names of G. F. Preston and 
William Lancaster, while Philoctetes (1866) had merely "M. A." on the 
title-page, with the not unnatural result that the poem was for a moment 
attributed to Matthew Arnold, greatly to the concern of de Table/s 
modesty. Rehearsals (1870) and Searching the Net (1873) hore the poet's 
name, but it was not imtil 1893, when Poems Dramatic and Lyrical col- 
lected the best of his work, that he won anything like due public recogni- 
tion. A second series with the same title appeared in 1895, ^^^ ^ post- 
humous collection, Orpheus in Thrace in 1901, was followed by Collected 
Poems in 1903.] 

When we decide that a poet's station is in the second rank, it is 
weU to remember that we cannot reasonably mean that his most 
distinguished qualities are in themselves of a secondary or inferior 
kind. If that were so, we should not in sanity spend any time on 
him at all. There can be no compromise with mediocrity in these 
matters; but mediocrity is not at all the same thing as clouded or 
congested excellence. Every poet who claims our consideration, 
not merely forcing a moment of unwilling attention, must do so by 
virtue of qualities that the greatest would be content to share with 
him. It is absurd to suppose that the purely poetic essence can be 
measured by degrees of goodness: that essential poetry may be 
good, and better, and best. The elements of poetry may be mani- 
fold, and a poet may be endowed with few or many of these, but in 
so far as he is possessed of any of them, he possesses them absolutely 
and not relatively. If he never achieves anything more than what 
might be called a fairly good l3nic line, we are foolish to give him a 
thought; if he achieves one perfect l3nic hne, thereby winning from 
us one moment of rapt attention, and does no more, in that moment 
of achievement he stands worthily with the masters. The diflFer- 



LORD DE TABLEY 421 



ence is that the great masters are able to exercise their essential 
poetic faculties much more continuously and freely than he; their 
song is not confounded by nearly so many distractions as his, nor 
subject to the same indiscretions, which are, as it were, external 
to the pure poetic impulse. In the master, the poetry is liberated 
more certainly and with more sustained splendour. The poet of 
the second rank habitually finds his poetic utterance in conflict 
with some alien force, and the result is that frequent clouding or 
congestion. 

No more striking illustration oi this fact could be well found than 
the work of Lord de Tabley. Of the essential elements of poetry 
there is scarcely one with which he was not richly, very richly, 
endowed. It was in no thin vein that poetry worked in his spirit; 
it flowed abimdantly and was liberal of its many virtues. He per- 
ceived the world dearly and intensely as a poet, he was fortunate 
in a scholarship that quickened and mellowed his vision, he had an 
exquisitely inherited and trained manner, he had a great sense of 
diction and an almost phenomenal vocabulary, and his poetic tem- 
per was nobly sensitive to all thrilling and poignant beauty. And 
yet, for all his splendid qualities, his is not among the great names. 
In reading through his work, imposing in volume, there is scarcely 
a page that does not reward us with some notable excellence; 
scarcely one that does not force us to the opinion that never was 
there more exasperating genius. The poetry is disturbed in its 
movement by something over which it seems to have no dominion. 
As is generally the case, this disturbing factor is not constant, 
though with de Tabley it is conmionly the product of one charac- 
teristic disability — a kind of intellectual inertia, a refusal, that 
in the light of his proved judgment and gifts must seem to be al- 
most deliberate, to spend that last ounce of energy that must al- 
ways go to the achievement of perfection, in poetry as in other 
things. From positive blemishes his work is remarkably free; in- 
deed he may, in comparison with almost any poet of whom one 
can think, be said to be almost impeccable in this matter. Poor or 
false images such as — 

"Where our lips were merely noise 
Of babies wrangling with a sleepy man; " 



and — 



'Mere-waves solid as a clod, 
Roar with skaters thunder-shod . 



422 THE ENGLISH POETS 

are so rare in his work as to be startling when they are found, while 
Sorrow Invincible may be said to be his one entirely poor poem. 
The trouble is, rather, a too frequent failure of mere driving force. 
In the first place, six out of seven of his poems, even his short 
pieces, are too long, and this we alwaj^ feel not to be due to a 
defective art or to lack of intellectual power, but just to intellectual 
drifting. Again, it is common enough to find single lines and 
phrases in the midst of excellent work that we are sure he could 
have bettered by a movement of the pen : 

"The rose of youth upon yoiu" face, 
My name upon your lips, 
The rippling trees, the lonely place. 
The sails of harbour ships ..." 

That is delightful, but who with any feeling for poetry does not 
ache to have been an imp in the poet's brain when that last line 
was written? 

When, however, every deduction has been made on account of his 
general weakness, — ^and the penalty is a heavy one, depriving a 
poet, who we feel might so easily have secured them, of the highest 
honours — de Tabley remains a poet of great distinction, one whose 
place in the history of English poetry is secure. Of detailed 
felicities his work is full. 

"My frown is like a winter house 
Laid eastward in a bitter land ..." 
and — 

"The vivid martin strikes the lake ..." 
and — 

"Where in among the fleeces of the sheep. 
Like small and burnished rooks, the starlings call ..." 

might be matched in nearly every poem he wrote. Mr. Gosse, in 
one of his kit-kat essays, has pointed to this wealth of beautiful 
detail as de Tabley's most striking achievement. While, however, 
it is in giving beauty to its parts that he is commonly successful, 
and in bringing his poem to a finely constructed and concentrated 
whole that he commonly fails, he must not be supposed to be en- 
tirely without this larger co-ordinating faculty. His two long 
dramas designed after a classic model, Philodetes and Orestes, are 
both finely wrought poems, not only rich in admirable touches, but 



LORD DE TABLEY 423 



in each case carried through on an ambitious plan to a memorable 
conclusion. Indeed, were it not that dramatic poetry lies outside 
the scope of this book, it would be pleasant to quote from the 
former play, which at moments — ^as, for example, when Philoctetes 
bids farewell to the Lemnians — reaches a nobility that can remind 
us of none but the greatest. 

In his shorter poems one might perhaps wish that he turned less 
constantly for his subjects to classical mythology. Not that he 
handled these subjects ill; on the contrary, he moves here with his 
most assured ease. And yet the frequent remoteness of interest, the 
reiteration of established imagery, the evocation of an emotion 
from a literary memory rather than -from direct experience, are apt 
to grow a little enervating. His poetrjr in this kind, though it would 
be folly to question its sincerity, loses some companionable quah'ty. 
We remember then that de Tabley was a lonely and secluded man, 
and we feel that here is rather a lonely and secluded poetry. His 
poems of the English country-side, however, are quite another 
matter. He is one of the rare poets who can bring all the precision 
of a trained naturalist to the service of poetry, and with him the 
display of minute knowledge is as delightful as it commonly is 
tedious. He made successful experiments too, such as The Sale 
at the Farm, in a homely manner not altogether apt to his genius, 
and in one at least of his more whimsical moods he achieved, in 
the Sti4dy of a Spider, a masterpiece of its kind. 

John Drinkwater, 



Sonnet 

Rosy delight that changest day by day 
From dearest growing to a dearer favour, 
Whom Thought and Sinew, bondsmen to obey. 
Slave out thy least command and may not waver. 

My recompense and zenith of reward. 

Bourn of all effort, thought behind all thinking, 

Regent of sleep and centre of regard 

Whereon the wakefid soul will pore unshrinking. 

I cannot count the phases of this love. 
Measure its growth or vindicate its reason. 



424 THE ENGUSH POETS 

I cannot doubt; the very smile that wove 

My soul with love withholds me from love's treason. 

I only know thou art my best delight, 

Food of sweet thoughts and sum of all things bright. 



Sonnet 

My heart is vext with this fantastic fear, — 
Had I been bom too soon or far away. 
Then had I never known thy beauty, dear, 
And thou hadst spent on others all thy May. 

The idle thought can freeze an idle brain- 
Faint at imagined loss of such dear prize; 
I pore upon the slender chance again. 
That taught me all the meaning of those eyes, 

But creeps a whisper with a treason tongue — 
Hadst never sunn'd beneath this maiden's glance 
Another Love thou hadst as madly sung, 
For Love is certain but the loved one chance. 

Deject and doubtful thus I forge quaint fear, 
But question little, Love, when thou art near. 



Autumn Love 

The autunm brought my love to me. 

The birds sing not in spring alone; 
For fancy all the year is free 

To find a sweetness of its own: 
And sallow woods and crystal morn 
Were sweeter than the budded thorn. 

When redwings peopled brake and down 
I kissed her mou^: in morning air 

The rosy clover dried to brown 
Beneath thro' all its glowing square. 

Around the bramble berries set 

Their beaded globes intenser jet. 



LORD DE TABLEY 425 



"True love," I whispered, "when I fold 
To mine thy littie lips so sweet, 

The headland trembles into gold, 
The sun goes up on firmer feet. 

And drenched in glory one by one 

The terrace clouds will melt and nm. 

Our lips are close as doves in nest; 

And life in strength flows everywhere 
In larger pulses through the breast 

That breathe with thine a mutual air. 
My nature almost shrinks to be 
In this great moment's ecstasy. 

"Lo, yonder myriad- tinted wood, 
With all its phases golden-brown, 

Lies calm; as if it imderstood 
That in the flutter of thy gown 

Abides a wonder more to me 

Than lustrous leagues of forest sea. 

"And far and deep we heard the sound 
And low of pasture-going kine. 

Your trembling Hps spake not: I found 
Their silence utterly divine. 

Again the fluttering accents crept 

Between them, failed, then how you wept! 

"For when you came to speak the part 
Which gave yourself for time and years. 

The angel in the maiden heart 

Could find no other speech but tears. 

And their immortal language told 

What Seraph's words to speak were cold. 

"We turned our homeward feet at last. 
And kissed to go, but kissed and stayed. 

The dewy meadows where we past 
Seemed love-full to each grass's blade. 

And there our thirsty lips retold 

That lovers' story ages old. 



426 THE ENGUSH POETS 

"They say we sear with growing time, 
And scorn in age our young romance: 

Yet shall that morning keep its prime 
Thro' every earthly shock and chance: 

And till my brain is dark with death, 

No sweetness leaves that morning breath." 



The Study of a SrroER 

From holy flower to holy flower 

Thou weavest thine unhallowed bower 

The harmless dewdrops, beaded thin. 

Ripple along thy ropes of sin. 

Thy house a grave, a gulf thy throne 

Affright the fairies every one. 

Thy winding-sheets are grey and fell, 

Imprisoning with nets of hell 

The lovely births that winnow by. 

Winged sisters of the rainbow sky: 

Elf-darlings, fluffy, bee-bright things. 

And owl-white moths with mealy wings, 

And tiny flies, as gauzy thin 

As e'er were shut electrum in. 

These are thy death spoils, insect ghoul. 

With their dear life thy fangs are foul. 

Thou felon anchorite of pain 

Who sittest in a world of slain; 

Hermit, who tunest song imsweet 

To heaving wind and writhing feet; 

A glutton of creation's sighs. 

Miser of many miseries; 

Toper, whose lonely feasting chair 

Sways in inhospitable air. 

The board is bare, the bloated host 

Drinks to himself toast after toast. 

His lip requires no goblet brink, 

But lie a weasel must he drink. 

The vintage is as old as time 

And bright as sunset, pressed and prime* 



LORD DE TABLEY 427 



Ah, venom mouth and shaggy thighs 
And paunch grown sleek with sacrifice, 
Thy dolphin back and shoulders round 
Coarse-hairy, as some goblin hound 
Whom a hag rides to sabbath on, 
While shuddering stars in fear grow wan. 
Thou palace priest of treachery, 
Thou type of selfish lechery, 
I break the toils around thy head 
And from their gibbets take thy dead. 



A Leave-taking 

Kneel not and leave me: mirth is in its grave. 

True friend, sweet words were ours, sweet words decay. 
Believe, the perfimie once this violet gave 

Lives — Olives no more, though mute tears answer nay. 
Break off delay! 

Dead, Love is dead! Ay, cancelled all his due. 

We say he mocks repose — ^we cannot tell — 
Close up his eyes and crown his head with rue. 

Say in his ear, Sweet Love, farewell! farewell! 
A last low knell. 

Forbear to move him. Peace, why should we stay? 

Go back no more to listen for his tread. 
Resmne our old calm face of every day: 

Not all our kneeling turns that sacred head 
Long dear, long dead! 

Go with no tear-drop; Love has died before: 

Stay being foolish; being wise begone. 
Let severed ways estrange thy weak heart more. 

Go, xmregretful, and refrain thy moan. 
Depart alone. . 



428 THE ENGUSH POETS 



Misrepresentation 

Peace, there is nothing more for men to speak; 

A larger wisdom than our lips' decrees. 
Of that dumb mouth no longer reason seek, 

No censure reaches that eternal peace, 
And that immortal ease. 

Believe them not that would disturb the end 
With earth's invidious comment, idly meant. 

Speak and have done thy evil; for my friend 
Is gone beyond all hmnan discontent, 
And wisely went. 

Say what you will and have your sneer and go. 

You see the specks, we only heed the fruit 
Of a great life, whose truth — ^men hate truth so — 

No lukewarm age of compromise could suit. 
Laugh and be mute! 



GEORGE ELIOT 

[Mary Ann Evans, who wrote novels and poems under the name of 
George Eliot, was bom in 1819 at Arbury Farm, Warwickshire, her father 
being a builder and estate agent. As a child and young girl she was chiefly 
remarkable for her passbnate love of reading, and in the second degree, 
for her religious enthusiasm. Her first published writing was a religious 
poem which appeared in the Christian Observer, January, 1840. Her 
views became liberalized after her father's removal to Coventry in 1841, 
owing to her intimacy with the related families of Bray and Hennell, the 
heads of which were known as writers of rather heterodox books; and the 
result of this change of thought was her translation of Strauss's Leben 
Jesu (1846). A period of travel followed, and in 185 1 Miss Evans came 
to London to act as assbtant editor of the Westminster Review. This 
brought her into contact with many "advanced" literary people, and 
e^)edally with G. H. Lewes, with whom, in 1854, she entered into marital 
relations which continued till his death, twenty-four years later, Lewes's 
domestic circumstances making a legal marriage impossible. Two years 
later, after long travel abroad, she wrote the first of her stories, and this, 
as all the world knows, was in due course followed by books which placed 
her at once in the front rank of English novelists. The curious thing is 
that the first period of George Eliot's immensely successful novels lasted 
less than seven years {Adam Bede, 1859; Felix Holt^ 1866); and afterwards 
the author during the greater part of four years devoted herself to writing 
poems. She published The Spanish Gypsy in 1868, and in 1869 there 
followed The Legend of Jtibaly which some years afterwards was issued in a 
volume with various miscellaneous poems. The second period of George 
Eliot's novels followed immediately; it included Middlemarch and Daniel 
Deranda, both of which met with amazing success. In 1878 G. H. Lewes 
died; in May, 1880, she married Mr. J. W. Cross, but died seven months 
later, on December 22, 1880.] 

Leslie Stephen has put it on record that "neither critics nor 
general readers have been convinced that George Eliot was prop- 
erly a poet, though she may be allowed to represent almost the 
highest excellence that can be attained in verse by one whose true 
strength lies elsewhere." The history of her first serious poem, The 
Spanish Gypsy, is a proof that verse composition did not come nat- 



430 THE ENGLISH POETS 

urally to her, for she found the difficulties immense, ahnost insupera- 
ble; after eight months' work she became "ill and very miserable; " 
and finally Lewes induced her to give up the poem and to turn 
back to prose. So Felix Holt was written and published (1865-$) ; 
but afterwards, as she told Frederic Harrison, she found it "im- 
possible to abandon'' the poem, though she, who had "never recast 
anything before," found it necessary to recast and alter, which she 
did most thoroughly. Originally it had been written as a five-act 
drama; the new version, which occupied her for a couple of years, 
was a hybrid affair, the dramatic scenes being oddly connected by 
long passages of narrative. The result is as though some com- 
mentator on Shakespeare or Sophocles were to run his notes into 
metrical form, and print them in the text, between the scenes. We 
need dwell no longer on The Spanish Gypsy y leaving it with the 
remark that it shows, as might be expected, much learning, and 
that it abounds in passages of sonorous rhetoric. A higher daim 
to purely poetic distinction is made by some of the miscellaneous 
verse that followed later, especially by The Legend of Jubal and 
some of the poems now bound up with it. They all want spon- 
taneity; of a lyrical gift there are few signs; but to say that they 
are too much interfused with philosophy is only to say that they 
express the thoughts which, ever since she and George Lewes came 
together, possessed the author's mind. We quote some passages 
from Jtdxil and the well-known O May I Join the Choir Invisible. 
The Jubal extracts embody really poetical visions, the former of 
the first consciousness of death in the primeval world, and the 
latter of one of the first dawnings of civilization; while the Choir 
Invisible is noteworthy both for the quality of the blank verse and 
for its concentrated and beautiful expression of some of the central 
beliefs of the author and of the thousands of minds with which 
she was in close intellectual sympathy. 



Edixor. 



[From The Legend of JubcU\ 

The Thought of Death 

Death was now lord of Life, and at his word 
Time, vague as air before, new terrors stirred. 
With measured wing now audibly arose 
Throbbing through all things to some unknown close. 



GEORGE ELIOT 431 



Now glad Content by clutching Haste was torn, 
And Work grew eager, and Device was bom. 
It seemed the light was never loved before, 
Now each man said, " Twill go and come no more." 
No budding branch, no pebble from the brook. 
No form, no shadow, but new deamess took 
From the one thought that life must have an end; 
And the last parting now began to send 
Diffusive dread through love and wedded bUss, 
Thrilling them into finer tenderness. 
Then Memory disclosed her face divine. 
That like the calm nocturnal lights doth shine 
Within the soul, and shows the sacred graves, 
And shows the presence that no sunlight craves. 
No space, no warmth, but moves among them all; 
Gone and yet here, and coming at each call. 
With ready voice and eyes that understand, 
And lips that ask a kiss, and dear responsive hand. 



The Effect of Music 

Then Jubal poured his triumph in a song — 

The rapturous word that rapturous notes prolong 

As radiance streams from smallest things that bum, 

Or thought of loving into love doth tum. 

And still his Ijrre gave companionship 

In sense-taught concert as of lip with Hp. 

Alone amid the hills at first he tried 

His winged song; then with adoring pride 

And bridegroom's joy at leading forth his bride. 

He said, "This wonder which my soul hath found, 

This heart of music in the might of soimd, 

Shall forthwith be the share of all our race 

And like the morning gladden common space: 

The song shall spread and swell as rivers do, 

And I will teach our youth with skill to woo 

This living Ijrre, to know its secret will, 

Its fine division of the good and ill. 

So shall men call me sire of harmony. 

And where great Sonjg is, there my life shall be.*' 



432 THE ENGLISH POETS 

Thus glorying as a god beneficent, 

Forth from his solitary joy he went 

To bless mankind. It was at evening, 

When shadows lengthen from each westward thing. 

When imminence of change makes sense more fine 

And light seems holier in its grand dedine. 

The fruit-trees wore their studded coronal, 

Earth and her children were at festival. 

Glowing as with one heart and one consent — 

Thought, love, trees, rocks, in sweet warm radiance blent. 

The tribe of Cain was resting on the ground. 

The various ages wreathed in one broad round. 

Here lay, while children peeped o'er his huge thighs, 

The sinewy man embrowned by centuries: 

Here the broad-bosomed mother of the strong 

Looked, like Demeter, placid o'er the throng 

Of young lithe forms whose rest was movement too — 

Tricks, prattle, nods, and laughs that lightly flew. 

And swayings as of flower-beds where Love blew. 

For all had feasted well upon the flesh 

Of juicy fruits, on nuts, and honey fresh. 

And now their wine was health-bred merriment, 

Which through the generations circUng went, 

Leaving none sad, for even father Cain 

Smiled as a Titan might, despising pain. 

Jubal sat climbed on by a plaj^ul ring 

Of children, lambs and whelps, whose gambolling. 

With tiny hoofs, paws, hands, and dimpled feet, 

Made barks, bleats, laughs, in pretty hubbub meet. 

But Tubal's hammer rang from far away. 

Tubal alone would keep no hoHday, 

His furnace must not slack for any feast, 

For of all hardship work he counted least; 

He scorned all rest but sleep, where every dream 

Made his repose more potent action seem. 

• 
Yet with health's nectar some strange thirst was blent, 
The fateful growth, the unnamed discontent. 
The inward shaping toward some unborn power. 
Some deeper-breathing act, the being^'s flower. 
After all gestures, words, and speech of eyes. 



GEORGE ELIOT 433 



The soul had more to tell, and broke in sighs. 

Then from the east, with glory on his head 

Such as low-slanting beams on corn-waves spread. 

Came Jubal with his lyre: there *mid the throng, 

Where the blank space was, poured a solenm song, 

Touching his lyre to full harmonic throb 

And measured pulse, with cadences that sob. 

Exult and cry, and search the inmost deep 

Where the dark-sources of new passion sleep. 

Joy took the air, and took each breathing soul, 

Embracing them in dne entranced whole. 

Yet thrilled each varying frame to various ends, 

As Spring new-waking through the creature sends 

Or rage or tenderness; more plenteous life 

Here breeding dread, and there a fiercer strife. 

He who had Hved through twice three centuries. 

Whose months monotonous, like trees on trees 

In hoary forests, stretched a backward maze. 

Dreamed himself dimly through the travelled days 

Till in clear light he paused, and felt the sun 

That warmed him when he was a little one; 

Felt that true heaven, the recovered past, 

The dear small Known amid the Unknown vast. 

And in that heaven wept. But younger limbs 

Thrilled toward the future, that bright land which swims 

In western glory, isles and streams and bays, 

Where hidden pleasures float in golden haze. 

And in all these the rhythmic influence, 

Sweetly overcharging the dehghted sense, 

Flowed out in movements, little waves that spread 

Enlarging, till in tidal imion led 

The youths and maidens both alike long-tressed. 

By grace-inspiring melody possessed, 

Rose in slow dance, with beauteous floating swerve 

Of limbs and hair, and many a melting curve 

Of ringed feet swayed )py each close-linked palm: 

Then Jubal poured more rapture in his psalm, 

The dance fired music, music fired the dance, 

The glow diffusive lit each countenance, 

Till all the gazing elders rose and stood 

With glad yet awful shock of that mysterious good. 



434 THE ENGLISH POETS 

"O May I Join the Choir Invisible" 

Longum iUttd tempus, quum non ero, tnagis me movetj quam hoc exiguum. 
— Cicero, ad AU. xii. i8. 

O may I join the choir invisible 

Of those immortal dead who live again 

In minds made better by their presence: live 

In pulses stirred to generosity, 

In deeds of ds^ring rectitude, in scorn 

For miserable aims that end with* self, 

In thoughts sublime that pierce the night like stars, 

And with their mQd persistence urge man's search 

To vaster issues. 

So to Hve is heaven: 
To make und3dng music in the world, 
Breathing as beauteous order that controls 
With growing sway the growing life of man. 
So we inherit that sweer purity 
For which we struggled, failed, and agonized 
With widening retrospect that bred despair. 
Rebellious flesh that would not be subdued, 
A vicious parent shaming still its child, 
Poor anxious penitence, is quick dissolved; 
Its discords, quenched by meeting harmonies, 
Die in the large and charitable air. 
And all our rarer, better, truer self, 
That sobbed reUgiously in yearning song, 
That watched to ease the burthen of the world, 
Laboriously tracing what must be. 
And what may yet be better — saw within 
A worthier image for the sanctuary, 
And shaped it forth before the multitude 
Divinely human, raising worship so 
To higher reverence more mixed with love — 
That better self shall live till human Time 
Shall fold its eyeHds, and the human sky 
Be gathered like a scroll within the tomb 
, Unread for ever. 

This is Hfe to come. 
Which martyred men have made more glorious 



GEORGE ELIOT 435 



For us who strive to follow. May I reach 
That purest heaven, be to other souls 
The cup of strength in some great agony, 
Enkindle generous ardour, feed pure love, 
Beget the smiles that have no cruelty — 
Be the sweet presence of a good diffused. 
And in diffusion ever more intense. 
So shall I join the choir invisible 
Whose music is the gladness of the world. 

1867. 



SIR ALFRED LYALL 

[Born 1835, of a family distinguished for its Indian services; educated 
at Eton and Haileybury; entered the Indian Civil Service, 1856; went 
through the Mutiny; rose rapidly, becoming ultimately Home Secretary 
1873, Foreign Secretary 1878. Retired 1887, and lived in London till his 
death in 191 1. Was Member of the India Coundl 1888-1902, and very 
prominent in intellectual society. Published Verses wHUen in Indian 1889, 
and afterwards two volimies of Asiatic Studies, dealing mainly with 
Oriental ideas on philosophy and religion.] 

Though Sir Alfred Comyn Lyall's chief claim to remembrance, 
other than the deep impression that he has left in the minds of his 
many friends, lies in his brilliant Indian administration and his 
masterly essays on Eastern religions, his little volume of verse 
ought by no means to be forgotten. It stands alone by reason of 
its vivid expression of Indian thought, old and new, and of its deep 
insight into Indian character. In form, too, the poems are ad- 
mirable, though some of those written between 1864 and 1870 are a 
little too Swinbumian in rhythm and some of the rhymes are such 
as to shock the critical ear. The two poems given below are alike 
concerned with that problem of the ultimate meaning of the 
world — of Life, Death and Destiny — on which Lyall's own mind, 
like that of his Indian mystics, was ever working. But, did sp>ace 
permit, it would be easy to show that he carried his researches and 
his meditations on this and kindred themes through other lands 
and other literatures. In Joab Speaketh we realize the doubts 
as to the justice of things which must have beset many a Hebrew 
warrior; in the charming story of The Monk and the Bird we have 
a mediaeval assertion of faith rewarded; while in Pilate's Wife's 
Dream the poet gives us a picture of the longing of a Roman woman 
to be saved from "madness and magic," and to be free, once and 
for all, from the deep, perplexing, insoluble problems that were 
for ever vexing the soul of the East. 

Editor. 



SIR ALFRED LYALL 437 



Theology in Extremis: 

Or a soliloquy that may have been delivered in Indian 
JunCj 1857 

"They would have spared life to any of their English prisoners who 
should consent to profess Mahometanism, by repeating the usual short 
formula; but only one half-caste cared to save himself in that way." — 
Extract from an Indian newspaper. 



MoRiTURUs Loquitur 

Oft in the pleasant summer years, 
Reading the tales of days bygone, 

I have miised on the story of human tears, 
All that man unto man has done, 

Massacre, torture, and black despair; 

Reading it all in my easy-chair. 

Passionate prayer for a minute's life; 

Tortured crying for death as rest; 
Husband pleading for child or wife. 

Pitiless stroke upon tender breast. 
Was it all real as that I lay there 
Lazily stretched on my easy-chair? 

Could I believe in those hard old times, 

Here in this safe luxurious age? 
Were the horrors invented to season rhymes, 

Or truly is man so fierce in his rage? 
What coidd I suffer, and what could I dare? 
I, who was bred to that easy-chair. 

They were my fathers, the men of yore, 
Little they recked of a cruel death; 

They would dip their hands in a heretic's gore. 
They stood and burnt for a rule of faith. 

What would I bum for, and whom not spare? 

I, who had faith in an easy-chair. 



438 THE ENGLISH POETS 

Now do I see old tales are true, 
Here in the clutch of a savage foe; 

Now shall I know what my fathers knew, 
Bodily anguish and bitter woe, 

Naked and bound in the strong sun's glare, 

Far from my civilized easy-chair. 

Now have I tasted and understood 
That old world feeling of mortal hate; 

For the eyes all round us are hot with blood; 
They will kill us coolly — they do but wait; 

While I, I would sell ten Hves, at least, 

For one fair stroke at that devilish priest 

Just in return for the kick he gave. 
Bidding me call on the prophet's name; 

Even a dog by thb may save 

Skin from the knife and soul from the flame; 

My soul! if he can let the prophet bum it; 

But life is sweet if a word may earn it. 

A bullock's death, and at thirty years! 

Just one phrase, and a man gets off it; 
Look at that mongrel clerk in his tears 

Whining aloud the name of the prophet; 
Only a formula easy to patter. 
And, God Almighty, what can it matter? 

"Matter enough," will my comrade say 
Praying aloud here dose at my side, 

"Whether you mourn in despair alway, 
Cursed for ever by Christ denied; 

Or whether you suffer a minute's pain 

All the reward of Heaven to gain." 

Not for a moment faltereth he, 

Sure of the promise and pardon of sin; 

Thus did the martyrs die, I see. 
Little to lose and muckle to win; 

Death means Heaven, he longs to receive it, 

But what shall I do if I don't believe it? 



SIR ALFRED LYALL 459 

Life is pleasant, and friends may be nigh, 
Fain would I speak one word and be spared; 

Yet I could be silent and cheerfully die, 
If I were only sure God cared; 

If I had faith, and were only certain 

That light is behind that terrible curtain. 

But what if He listeth nothing at all 
Of words a poor wretch in his terror may say? 

That mighty God who created all 
To labour and live their appointed day; 

Who stoops not either to bless or ban, 

Weaving the woof of an endless plan. 

He is the Reaper, and binds the sheaf, 

Shall not the season its order keep? 
Can it be changed by a man's behef ? 

Millions of harvests still to reap; 
Will God reward, if I die for a creed, 
Or will He but pity, and sow more seed? 

Surely He pities who made the brain. 
When breaks that mirror of memories sweet, 

When the hard blow falleth, and never again 
Nerve shall quiver nor pulse shall beat; 

Bitter the vision of vanishing joys; 

Surely He pities when man destroys. 

Here stand I on the ocean's brink, 
Who hath brought news of the further shore? 

How shall I cross it? Sail or sink, 
One thing is sure, I return no more; 

Shall I find haven, or aye shall I be 

Tossed in the depths of a shoreless sea? 

They tell fair tales of a far-off land, 

Of love rekindled, of forms renewed; 
There may I only touch one hand 

Here life's ruin will little be rued; 
But the hand I have pressed and the voice I have heard. 
To lose them for ever, and all for a word! 



440 THE ENGLISH POETS 

Now do I feel that my heart must break 

All for one glimpse of a woman's face; 
Swiftly the slumbering memories wake 

Odour and shadow of hour and place; 
One bright ray through the darkening past 
Leaps from the lamp as it brightens last, 

Showing me sununer in western land 

Now, as the cool breeze murmureth 
In leaf and flower — ^And here I stand 

In this plain all bare save the shadow of death; 
Leaving my life in its full noonday, 
And no one to know why I flimg it away. 

Why? Am I bidding for glory's roll? 

I shall be murdered and clean forgot; 
Is it a bargain to save my soul? 
God, whom I trust in, bargains not; 
Yet for the honour of English race, 
May I not live or endure disgrace. 

Ay, but the word, if I could have said it, 

I by no terrors of hell perplext; 
Hard to be silent and have no credit 

From man in this world, or reward in the next; 
None to bear witness and reckon the cost 
Of the name that is saved by the life that is lost. 

I must be gone to the crowd imtold 

Of men by the cause which they served luiknown, 
Who moulder in myriad graves of old; 

Never a story and never a stone 
Tells of the martyrs who die like me, 
Just for the pride of the old coimtree. 

Meditations of a Hindu Prince 

All the world over, I wonder, in lands that I never have trod, 
Are the people eternally seeking for the signs and steps of a God? 
Westward across the ocean, and Northward ayont the snow, 
Do they all stand gazing, as ever, and what do the wisest know? 



SIR ALFRED LYALL 441 

Here, in this mystical India, the deities hover and swarm 

Like the wild bees heard in the tree- tops, or the gusts of a gathering 

storm; 
In the air men hear their voices, their feet on the rocks are seen. 
Yet we all say, "Whence is the message, and what may the wonders 

mean?" 

A million shrines stand open, and ever the censer swings. 

As they bow to a mystic s)nnbol, or the figures of ancient kings; 

And the incense rises ever, and rises the endless cry 

Of those who are heavy laden, and of cowards loth to die. 

For the Destiny drives us together, like deer in a pass of the hills. 
Above is the sky, and aroimd us the sound of the shot that kills; 
Pushed by a Power we see not, and struck by a hand unknown. 
We pray to the trees for shelter, and press our lips to a stone. 

The trees wave a shadowy answer, and the rock frowns hollow and 

grim. 
And the form and the nod of the demon are caught in the twihght 

dim; 
And we look to the sunlight falling afar on the mountain crest, 
Is there never a path runs upward to a refuge there and a rest? 

The path, ah! who has shown it, and which is the faithful guide? 
The haven, ah! who has known it? for steep is the mountainside. 
Forever the shot strikes surely, and ever the wasted breath 
Of the praying multitude rises, whose answer is only death. 

Here are the tombs of my kinsfolk, the fruit of an ancient name. 
Chiefs who were slain on the war-field, and women who died in 

flame; 
They are gods, these kings of the foretime, they are spirits who 

guard our race. 
Ever I watch and worship; they sit with a marble face. 

And the myriad idols aroimd me, and the legion of muttering 

priests, 
The revels and rites imholy, the dark unspeakable feasts! 
What have they wrong from the Silence? Hath even a whisper 

come 
Of the secret, Whence and Whither? Alas! for the gods are dimib. 



442 THE ENGLISH POETS 

Shall I list to the word of the English, who come from the utter- 
most sea? 

"The Secret, hath it been told you, and what is your message 
tome?" 

It is nought but the wide-world story how the earth and the 
heavens began, 

How the gods are glad and angry, and a Deity once was man. 

I had thought, "Perchance in the cities where the rulers of India 

dwell. 
Whose orders flash from the far land, who girdle the earth with 

a spell. 
They have fathomed the depths we float on, or measured the 

unknown main" — 
Sadly they turn from the venture, and say that the quest is vain. 

Is life, then, a dream and delusion, and where shall the dreamer 

awake? 
Is the world seen like shadows on water, and what if the mirror 

break? 
Shall it pass as a camp that is struck, as a tent that is gathered 

and gone 
From the sands that were lamp-lit at eve, and at morning are 

level and lone? 

Is there nought in the heaven above, whence the hail and the 

levin are hurled. 
But the wind that is swept aroimd us by the rush of the rolling 

world? 
The wind that shall scatter my ashes, and bear me to silence and 

sleep 
With the dirge, and the sounds of lamenting, and voices of women 

who weep. 



JOHN ADDINGTON SYMONDS 

[Born at Bristol, 1840, of a family which had been distinguisiied in 
medidne for five generations. After a brilliant career at Oxford, he 
developed lung delicacy, which compelled him to live much in Italy and 
Switzerland, especially (after 1878) at Davos, in the company of R. L. 
Stevenson and other invalids of mark. For years he devoted his main 
studies to Italian history, and produced not only The Renaissance of Italy 
in many volumes but a number of shorter books and essays in prose. On 
these his reputation will chiefly rest; but in and after 1878 he also pub- 
lished, in addition to translations of Latin students' songs and Michael 
Angelo's sonnets, four books of original verse: Many Moods, 1878; New 
and Old, 1880; Animi Figura, 1882; and Vagabunduli LibeUuSy 1884. He 
died in Rome on April 19, 1893.] 

To read much of S)nnonds's verse at a sitting is to be oppressed 
by a luxuriance that often runs to seed. His very facility, indeed, 
while it always gives his verse remarkable accomplishment, fre- 
quently leads him astray from the fine purposes of poetry, when 
he is content to describe the externab'ties of things, without explor- 
ing their sources. His work then, dazzling as it often is, becomes 
hard and sh'ppery on the surface, and barren of the intimacy and 
precision which are the blood of poetry. In these moods — and 
they were not rare in his experience — ^he was the prey and not the 
master of words, and the seductiveness of a merely gorgeous verbal 
array confused his perception of the real nature of an image; as, for 
example — 

Upon the pictured walls amid the blaze 
Of carbimcle and turquoise, solid bosses 
Of diamonds, pearl engirt, shot fiery rays: 

Swan's down beneath, with parrot plumage, glosses 
Cedar-carved couches on the dais deep 
In bloom of asphodel and meadow mosses. 

Here languid men with pleasure tired may sleep: 
Here revellers may banquet in the sheen 
Of silver cressets: gourds and peaches heap 



444 THE ENGUSH POETS 

The dtron tables; and a leafy screen, 

This way and that with blossoms interlaced. 

Winds through the hall in mazed alleys green. 

This is striking virtuosity, but it is not the disciplined manner of 
poetry; it produces not an image in the mind, but a gUttering 
confusion. It is, perhaps, in the shorter lyric, that searching test 
of a poet's quality, that Symonds most suffered from his lack of 
strict poetic control; in this manner the large and impressive if 
florid gesture of his more elaborate work is of little use to him, and 
he finds himself imtutored to stricter economy of the imagination, 
and the result is that his short lyrics, with very few exceptions, 
lack all the sudden and glowing presentation of words that means 
distinction. His reaUy imposing accomplishment, too, was subject 
to startling lapses, such as 

Splits the throat 
Of maenad multitudes with shrill sharp shrieks, 

and his literary scholarship should have saved him from such an 
indiscretion as — 

Pestilence-smitten multitudes, sere leaves 
Driven by the dull remorseless autumn breath. 

And yet, in spite of his verbal ceremoniousness, and a habit of 
mind that too often led him from simple and stirring imaginative 
thought into every deft kind of fancy, he is justly allowed the honor 
of representation among his country's poets. Not only had he 
great richness in description, which could be arresting when it was 
not imbridled, but there were moments when he wrote simply and 
with his eye on his object, as in Harvest, and the result gives hjrn a 
place that we can only wish he had earned by a greater body of 
work of his best quality. There were other times when his very 
virtuosity reached such a pitch as to force something more than 
astom'shment, as in £e Jeune Homme caressatU sa Chimirey where 
he achieves a brilliance equalled by very few of his contemporaries. 
Yet better, he could now and again subject himself to real emo- 
tional truth, and express it with sustained if unequal directness, as 
in Stella Maris. This sonnet sequence is, I think, his best achieve- 
ment as a poet. The pyschology may be a little imcertain, and the 
lover's attitude is sometimes (e. g. Sonnets 52 and 53) intolerable, 
but the sequence as a whole does give real and often beautiful 



JOHN ADDINGTON SYMONDS 445 



expression to a profound and passionate experience. There is here 
a spiritual intensity which S)nnonds generally missed, but by virtue 
of his having achieved it here and in one or two other places, he 
claims his place in the company of genuine poets. 

John Drinkwater. 

The Shepherd to the Evening Star 

Star of my soul, arise; 

Show forth thy silver shining! 
For thee the sunset skies 

With love and light are pining: 
The tents of evening spread for thee 
Their rich and radiant canopy. 

All day the tender lemon trees 

Above the pathway bending 
Drooped their still boughs in odorous ease, 

Thine advent cool attending: 
But now the little winds that blow 
Sway their faint petals to and fro. 

The dim mysterious avenues 

Of olives interwoven 
Respire again, and drink the dews; 

And where their skirts are cloven, 
Black fimeral flames of cypresses 
Shoot skyward from the purple seas. 

My sheep and goats are housed: their bells 

Keep silence on the meadow; 
And sohtude hath spread the fells 

With her aerial shadow; 
I scarce can hear a soimd, or see 
A single thing to hinder thee. 

Come, Stan! Come, lover! Let me feel 

The wonder of thy kisses: 
Breathe in my brain the thoughts that steal 

Through heaven's blue wildernesses: 
But when the maiden moon is free. 
Leave me to sleep and dream of thee! 



446 THE ENG LISH POETS ^__ 

Le Jettne Homme Caressant sa Chimere 

(For an Intaglio) 

A boy of eighteen years 'mid myrtle-boughs 
Lying love-languid on a mom of May, 

Watched half-asleep his goats insatiate browse 
Thin shoots of ihyme and lentisk, by the spray 
Of biting sea-winds bitter made and grey: 

Therewith when shadows fell, his waking thought 

Of love into a wondrous dream was wroiight. 

A woman lay beside him, — so it seemed; 
For on her marble shoulders, like a mist 

Irradiate with tawny moonrise, gleamed 
Thick silken tresses; her white woman's wrist, 
Glittering with snaky gold and amethyst. 

Upheld a dainty chin; and there beneath, 

Her twin breasts shone like pinks that lilies wreathe. 

What color were her eyes I cannot tell; 
For as he gazed thereon, at times they darted 

Dun rays like water in a dusky well; 
Then turned to topaz: then like rubies smarted 
With smouldering flames of passion tiger-hearted; 

Then 'neath blue-veined lids swam soft and tender 

With pleadings and shy timorous surrender. 

Thus far a woman: but the breath that lifted 
Her panting breast with long melodious sighs, 

Stirred o'er her neck and hair broad wings that sifted 
The perfumes of meridian Paradise; 
Dusk were they, furred like velvet, gemmed with eyes 

Of such dull lustre as in isles afar 

Night-flying moths spread to the summer star. 

Music these pinions made — a sound and surge 
Of pines innumerous near lisping waves — 

Rustlings of reeds and rushes on the verge 
Of level lakes and naiad-haunted caves — 
Drowned whispers of a wandering stream that laves 

Deep alder-boughs and tracts of ferny grass 

Bordered with azvure-belled campanulas. 



JOHN ADDINGTON SYMONDS 447 

Potent they were: for never since her birth 
With feet of woman this fair siren pressed 

Sleek meadow swards or stony ways of earth; 
But 'neath the silken marvel of her breast, 
Displayed in sinuous length of coil and crest, 

Glittered a seipent's tail, fold over fold, 

In massy labyrinths of languor rolled. 

Ah me! what fascination! what faint stars 

Of emerald and opal, with the shine 
Of rubies intermingled, and dim bars 

Of twisting turquoise and pale coraline! 

What rings and roimds! what thin streaks sapphirine 
Freckled that gleaming glory, like the bed 
Of Eden streams with gems enamelled! 

There lurked no loathing, no soul-freezing fear, 

But luxury and love these coils between: 
Faint grew the boy; the siren filled his ear 

With singing sweet as when the village green 

Re-echoes to the tinkling tambourine. 
And feet of girls aglow with laughter glance 
In myriad mazy errors of the dance. 

How long he dallied with delusive joy 

I know not: but thereafter never more 
The peace of passionless slumber soothed the boy; 

For he was stricken to the very core 

With sickness of desire exceeding sore. 
And through the radiance of his eyes there shone 
Consiuning fire too fierce to gaze upon. 

He, ere he died — and they whom lips divine 
Have touched, fade flower-like and cease to be — 

Bade Charides on agate carve a sign 
Of his strange slumber: therefore can we see 
Here in the ruddy gem's transparency 

The boy, the myrtle-boughs, the triple spell 

Of moth and snake and white witch terrible. 



448 THE ENGLISH POETS 



In the Inn at Berchtesgaden 

Child with the gentle tired eyes 
And paUid cheek and faint wan smile, 
I love your courteous shy replies 
And soft persuasive way^, the while 
On day-long tedious service bent 
You bear our whims and discontent. 

For hard it is to please alway 

The hundred guests who come and go, 

To see fresh faces every day, 

And hear the same unchanging flow 

Of hasty words that wants express 

And idle wishes niunberless. 

I marvel not your b'ps are wan, 
And soft and languid every limb, 
And faint as dawn the blush upon 
Those cheeks so delicate and dim; 
For like a flower that pines away. 
You fade for light and air and play. 

I would that I could bear you hence 
Afar to field, or hill, or wood, 
To watch new life in every sense 
Expand with free and pulsing blood, 
To see your eyes with pleasure glow. 
And hear your laughter fresh and low. 

That cannot be: but day by day 
Life brings you nothing new or bright: 
The bloom of boyhood dies away; 
And youth, unsunned by youth's delight, 
Yields place to manhood tame and drear- 
Blank year succeeding to blank year. 



JOHN ADDINGTON SYMONDS 449 



Koim TO. Tcov <f>iX.iav 

Give freely to the friend thou hast; 

Unto thyself thou givest: 
On barren soil thou canst not cast, 

For by his life thou livest. 

Nay, this alone doth trouble me — 
That I should still be giving 

Through him unto myself, when he 
Is love within me living. 

I fain would give to him^alone. 
Nor let him guess the giver; 

Like dews that drop on hills unknown, 
To feed a lordly river. 



Harvest 

The west is purple, and a golden globe, 

Sphered with new-risen moonlight, hangs between 

The skirts of evening's ameth)^tine robe 
And the round world bathed in the steady sheen. 
There bending o'er a sickle bright and keen. 

Rests from his long day's labour one whose eyes 

Are fixed upon the large and liuninous skies. 

An earnest man he seems, with yellow hair, 
And yellow 'neath his scythe-sweep are the sheaves; 

Much need hath he to waste the nights with care, 
Lest waking he should hear from dripping eaves 
The plash of rain, or hail among thin leaves. 

Or melancholy waitings of a wind, 

•That lays broad field and furrow waste behind: 

Much need hath he the live-long day to toil, 
Sweeping the golden granaries of the plain. 

Until he gamer all the summer's spoil. 
And store his gaping bams with heavy grain; 



450 THE ENGUSH POETS 

Then will he sleep, nor heed the plash of rain, 
But with gay wassail and glad winter cheer 
Steel a stout heart against the coming year. 



[From Stella Maris] 
Three Sonnets— i 

Rebuke me not! I have nor wish nor skill 
To alter one hair's breadth in all this house 
Of Love, rising with domes so limiinous 
And air-built galleries on hfe's topmost hill! 

Only I know that fate, chance, years that kill, 
Change that transmutes, have aimed their darts at us; 
Envying each lovely shrine and amorous 
Reared on earth's soil by man's too passionate will. 

Dread thou the moment when these glittering towers, 
These adamantine walls and gates of gems. 
Shall fade b'ke forms of sun-forsaken cloud; 

When dulled by imperceptible chill hours, 
The golden spires of our Jerusalems 
Shall melt to mist and vanish in night's shroud! 



n 

Silvery mosquito-curtains draped the bed: 
A lamp stood on the table; but its light 
Startled no whit the drowsy wings of night, 
Nor had the mystery of darkness fled. 

She sliunbered not: flawless from foot to head; 
Fair ivory body clothed in fairest white; 
No bar between her beauty and my sight: 
Silence and storm-throes on our souls were shed. 

Storm in the flakes of refluent hair that fret 
Those brows imperious; in the smouldering fire 
Of clear blue eyes love's tear-dews never wet; 

Scorn frozen on firm h'ps, and petulant ire 
Ready to leap from that marmoreal breast. 
How awful was this motionless unrest! 



JOHN ADDINGTON SYMONDS 451 

m 

And then she rose; and rising, then she knelt; 

And then she paced the floor with passionate tread; 
And then she sank with that imperial head 
Bowed on bare knees: her broad arms made a belt 

To clasp them; dark rebellious hair was shed 
In tempest o'er fixed ardent eyes which dwelt, 
Searching my heart's heart; yea, my manhood felt 
From that tense huddled form intensest dread. 

Nerves quaked; veins curdled; thin compulsive flame 
Thrilled through her crouching flesh to my couched soul 
Expectant; lingering minutes winged with blame 

Swept over us with voiceless thunder-roll, 
While the vast silence of the midnight stole, 
Merging our sin, a shuddering sea of shame! 



Je suis trop jeune 

Leave me awhile; I am too young to love; 

My maiden fancies are enough for me: 
Leave me awhile; too soon will passion move 

The silent springs of my virginity. 
You break my dream, wither my girlhood's flower. 

With vows and kisses and soft whispered sighs; 
And offer what? The homage of an hour, 

The sad sweet service of adoring eyes. 
And then you fly. Tis honor bids you go: 

You think it virtue to have left me maid; 
You smile "Uncropped by me her rose shall blow. 

Her bridal kiss on worthier lips be laid." 
But give me, stranger, give me back, I pray, 
The heart's ease that was mine but yesterday! 



ADAM LINDSAY GORDON 

[Born in the Azores, 1833; educated at Cheltenham and Woolwich. 
Went to Australia, 1853. Published Sea Spray (1867) and Bush Ballads 
(1870). Died by his own hand in that year.] 

Adam Lindsay Gordon was the son of that Captain Adam 
Dumford Gordon who, having served well in India, became ulti- 
mately Professor of Hindustani in Cheltenham College, where the 
boy went for a time; he was afterwards at Woolwich, but obtained 
no conmiission. He seems to have spent much of his time with 
boxers and horse- trainers. In 1853 he was sent out to Australia; a 
poem written to his sister shows that he knew that he went in dis- 
grace, but that his "stubborn pride" did not quail before the 
future. The poem Whisperings in Wattle-houghs, here printed, 
shows that in his exile he was often tormented by remorseful 
thoughts of those he had left behind. In Australia he entered the 
Pob'ce as a constable; he stayed in the force two years, making a 
name meanwhile as a steeplechase rider. After 1855 he became 
famous in that capacity, but in 1862 he married one Maggie Park, 
who had nursed him after a fall; in 1864 he inherited £7,000 and 
entered the South Australian Parliament, till having spent his 
money he retired and opened a livery stable at Ballarat. The 
mysterious thing about him is that during his riotous youth, and 
during these ten years among horses and horsemen in Australia, 
he picked up a good knowledge of Latin, Greek, and French Utera- 
ture. The next five years were divided between steeplechasing and 
poetry; in one day at Melbourne (1868) he won three races, and 
just about the same time he wrote his Song of Autumn and The Sick 
Stockrider, Then in an evil day he laid claim to a great estate 
(Esslemont) in Scotland, believing himself to be head of his 
branch of the Gordon family. In June, 1870, he learnt that his 
apph'cation had failed; he was pressed for money, and he had not 
recovered from the effects of a bad fall. So he sent to the press his 
volmne of Bush Ballads and quietly shot himself. Unfortunately, 
too, a friend obeyed too literally the instructions in a letter from 
Gordon, and burnt a whole trunkful of his manuscripts, verse and 
prose; so that all that remains of his writing is the two small 



ADAM LINDSAY GORDON 453 

volumes which, in the country that he had made his own, gained 
and kept for him the name and fame of the Australian Poet. A 
book on Adam Lindsay Gordon and his Friends has been written by 
Mr. Douglas Sladen, who has also issued the Poems in a little 
volume (Constable & Co., 191 2). 

Gordon's hterary models were Byron and, after 1865, Swinburne; 
but his extraordinary verbal memory enabled him to remember by 
heart whole pages of other poets, from Horace to Macaulay and 
Browning. Yet none can call him an imitator, except perhaps of 
Swinburne. His miscellaneous poems and songs are original, 
though the feeling they express is common to many in all lands. 
His bush poems and his riding verses are the free and spirited 
outcome of his own experience, and form an unrivalled picture of 
the Australia of fifty years ago, and of the passions and interests 
that animated the makers of a new coimtry. 

Editor. 



The Sick Stockrider 

Hold hard, Ned! Lift me down once more, and lay me in the shade 
Old man, you Ve had your work cut out to guide 

Both horses, and to hold me in the saddle when I swayed. 
All through the hot, slow, sleepy, silent ride. 

The dawn at "Moorabinda" was a mist-rack dull and dense. 

The simrise was a sullen, sluggish lamp; 
I was dozing in the gateway at Arbuthnot's boimd'ry fence, 

I was dreaming on the Limestone cattle camp. 

We crossed the creek at Carricksford, and sharply through the 
haze, 

And suddenly the sim shot flaming forth; 
To southward lay "Katawa," with the sandpeaks all ablaze. 

And the flushed fields of Glen Lomond lay to north. 

Now westward winds the bridle-path that leads to Lindisfarm, 

And yonder looms the double-headed Bluff; 
From the far side of the first hill, when the skies are clear and calm 

You can see Sylvester's woolshed fair enough. 



454 THE ENGLISH POETS 

Five miles we used to call it froiri our homestead to the place 
Where the big tree spans the roadway like an arch; 

'Twas here we ran the dingo down that gave us such a chase 
Eight years ago — or was it nine? — ^last March. 

'Twas merry in the glowing mom, among the gleaming grass, 

To wander as we Ve wandered many a mile. 
And blow the cool tobacco cloud, and watch the white wreaths 
pass, 

Sitting loosely in the saddle all the while. 

'Twas merry 'mid the blackwoods, when we spied the station 
roofs, 

To wheel the wild scrub cattle at the yard. 
With a running fire of stockwhips and a fiery run of hoofs; 

Oh! the hardest day was never then too hard! 

Aye! we had a glorious gallop after "Starlight" and his gang, 

When they bolted from Sylvester's on the flat; 
How the sun-dried reed-beds crackled, how the flint-strewn ranges 
rang 

To the strokes of "Mountaineer" and "Acrobat" 

Hard behind them in the timber,, harder still across the heath, 
Close beside them through the tea- tree scrub we dashed; 

And the golden- tinted fern leaves, how they rustled underneath! 
And the honeysuckle osiers, how they crashed! 

We led the himt throughout, Ned, on the chestnut and the 
grey. 

And the troopers were three himdred yards behind, 
While we emptied our six-shooters on the bushrangers at bay, 

In the creek with stunted box- tree for a blind! 

There you grappled with the leader, man to man and horse to 
horse. 

And you rolled together when the chestnut reared; 
He blazed away and missed you in that shallow watercourse — 

A narrow shave — ^his powder singed your beard! 



ADAM LINDSAY GORDON 455 

In these hours when Ufe is ebbing, how those days when life was 
young 

Come back to us; how clearly I recall 
Even the yams Jack Hall invented, and the songs Jem Roper sung; 

And where are now Jem Roper and Jack Hall? 

Aye! nearly all our comrades of the old colonial school, 

Our ancient boon companions, Ned, are gone; 
Hard livers for the most part, somewhat reckless as a rule. 

It seems that you and I are left alone. 

There was Hughes, who got in trouble through that business with 
the cards. 

It matters little what became of him; 
But a steer ripped up MacPherson in the Cooraminta yards. 

And Sullivan was drowned at Sink-or-swim; 

And Mostyn — ^poor Frank Mostyn — died at last a fearful wreck. 

In "the horrors," at the Upper Wandinong, 
And Carisbrooke, the rider, at the Horsefall broke his neck, 

Faith! the wonder was he saved his neck so long! 

Ah! those days and nights we squandered at the Logans' in the 
glen— 

The Logans, man and wife, have long been dead. 
Elsie's tallest girl seems taller than your little Elsie then; 

And Ethel is a woman grown and wed. 

I've had my share of pastime, and I Ve done my share of toil. 

And life is short — the longest life a span; 
I care not now to tarry for the com or for the oil, 

Or for the wine that maketh glad the heart of man. 

For good undone and gifts misspent and resolutions vain, 

Tis somewhat late to trouble. This I know — 
I should live the same life over, if I had to live again; 

And the chances are I go where most men go. 

The deep blue skies wax dusky, and the tall green trees grow dim, 
The sward beneath me seems to heave and fall; 

And sickly, smoky shadows through the sleepy sunlight swim, 
And on the very sun's face weave their pall. 



4S6 THE ENGLISH POETS 

Let me slumber in the hollow where the wattle blossoms wave, 

With never stone or rail to fence my bed; 
Should the sturdy station children pull the bush flowers on my 
grave, 

I may chance to hear them romping overhead. 



How WE Beat the Favourite 
A lay of the Loamshire Hunt Cup 

"Aye, squire," said Stevens, "they back him at evens; 

The race is all over, bar shouting, they say; 
The Clown ought to beat her; Dick Neville is sweeter 

Than ever — ^he swears he can win all the way. 

"A gentleman rider — ^well, I'm an outsider. 
But if he 's a gent who the mischief 's a jock? 

You swells mostly blunder, Dick rides for the plunder, 
He rides, too, like thunder — ^he sits like a rock. 

"He calls 'hunted fairly' a horse that has barely 
Been stripped for a trot within sight of the hounds, 

A horse that at Warwick beat BirdUme and Yorick, 
And gave Abdelkader at Aintree nine pounds. 

"They say we have no test to warrant a protest; 

Dick rides for a lord and stands in with a steward; 
The light of their faces they show him — ^his case is 

Prejudged and his verdict already secured. 

"But none can outlast her, and few travel faster, 
She strides in her work clean away from The Drag; 

You hold her and sit her, she couldn't be fitter, 
Whenever you hit her she '11 spring like a stag. 

"And perhaps the green jacket, at odds though they back it. 
May fall, or there 's no knowing what may turii up. 

The mare is quite ready, sit still and ride steady, 
Keep cool; and I think you may just win the Cup." 



ADAM LINDSAY GORDON 457 

Dark-brown with tan muzzle, just stripped for the tussle, 

Stood Iseult, arching her neck to the curb, 
A lean head and fiery, strong quarters and wiry, 

A loin rather Ught, but a shoulder superb. 

Some parting injimction, bestowed with great unction, 

I tried to recall, but forgot like a dunce. 
When Reginald Murray, full tilt on White Surrey, 

Came down in a hurry to start us at once. 

"Keep back in the yellow! Come up on Othello! 

Hold hard on the chestnut! Turn round on The Drag! 
Keep back there on Spartan! Back you, sir, in tartan! 

So, steady there, easy," and down went the flag. 

We started, and Kerr made strong running on Mermaid, 
Through furrows that led to the first stake-and-bound, 

The crack, half extended, looked bloodlike and splendid, 
Held wide on the right where the headland was sound. 

I pulled hard to baffle her rush with the snaffle. 

Before her two-thirds of the field got away. 
All through the wet pasture where floods of the last year 

Still loitered, they dotted my crimson with clay. 

The fourth fence, a wattle, floored Monk and Bluebottle; 

The Drag came to grief at the blackthorn and ditch. 
The rails toppled over Redoubt and Red Rover, 

The lane stopped Lycurgus and Leicestershire Witch. 

She passed like an arrow Kildare and Cock Sparrow, 
And Mantrap and Mermaid refused the stone wall; 

And Giles on The Greyling came down at the pahng, 
And I was left sailing in front of them all. 

I took them a burster, nor eased her nor nursed her 
Until the Black Bullfinch led into the plough. 

And through the strong bramble we bored with a scramble — 
My cap was knocked off by the hazel-tree bough. 



4S8 THE ENG LISH POETS ^___ 

Where furrows looked lighter I drew the rein tighter — 
Her dark chest all dappled with flakes of white foam, 

Her flanks mud-bespattered, a weak rail she shattered — 
We landed on turf with our heads turned for home. 

Then crashed a low binder, and then close behind her 
The sward to the strokes of the favourite shook; 

His rush roused her mettle, yet ever so little 

She shortened her stride as we raced at the brook. 

She rose when I hit her. I saw the stream glitter, 
A wide scarlet nostril flashed close to my knee, 

Between sky and water The Clown came and caught her 
The space that he cleared was a caution to see. 

And forcing the running, discarding all cunning, 
A length to the front went the rider in green; 

A long strip of stubble, and then the big double, 
Two stiff flights of rails with a quickset between. 

She raced at the rasper, I felt my knees grasp her, 
I found my hands give to her strain on the bit. 

She rose when The Clown did — our silks as we bounded 
Brushed lightly, our stirrups clashed loud as we lit. 

A rise steeply sloping, a fence with stone coping — 
The last — ^we diverged round the base of the hill; 

His path was the nearer, his leap was the clearer, 
I flogged up the straight, and he led sitting still. 

She came to his quarter, and on still I brought her. 
And up to his girth, to his breast-plate she drew; 

A short prayer from Neville just reached me, "The Devil," 
He muttered— locked level the hurdles we flew. 

A hiun of hoarse cheering, a dense crowd careering, 
^^ All sights seen obscurely, all shouts vaguely heard; 
"The green wins! " "The crimson! '' The multitude swims on, 
And figures are blended and features are blurred. 



ADAM LINDSAY GORDON 459 

"The horse is her master! " "The green forges past her! " 

"The Clown will outlast her!" "The Clown wins!" "The 
Clown!" 

The white railing races with all the white faces, 
The chestnut outpaces, outstretches the brown. 

On still past the gateway she strains in the straightway, 
Still struggles, "The Clown by a short neck at most," 

He swerves, the green scourges, the stand rocks and sui^ges, 
And flashes, and verges, and flits the white post. 

Aye! so ends the tussle, — ^I knew the tan muzzle 

Was first, though the ring-men were yelling "Dead heat!" 

A nose I could swear by, but Clarke said "The mare by 
A short head." And that 's how the favourite was beat. 



Whisperings in Wattle-boughs 

Oh, gaily sings the bird! and the wattle-boughs are stirred 

And rustled by the scented breath of spring; 
Oh, the dreary wistful longing! Oh, the faces that are thronging! 

Oh, the voices that are vaguely whispering! 

Oh, tell me, father mine, ere the good ship crossed the brine, 
On the gangway one mute handgrip we exchanged, 

Do you, past the grave, employ, for your stubborn, reckless 
boy, 
Those petitions that in life were ne'er estranged? 

Oh, tell me, sister dear — ^parting word and parting tear 
Never passed between us; let me bear the blame — 

Are you living, girl, or dead? bitter tears since then I Ve shed 
For the lips that lisped with mine a mother's name. 

Oh, tell me, ancient friend, ever ready to defend 

In our boyhood, at the base of hfe's long hill, 
Are you waking yet or sleeping? have you left this vale of weep- 
ing? 

Or do you, like your comrade, linger still? 



46o THE ENGLISH POETS 

Oh, whisper, buried love, is there rest and peace above? — 

There is little hope or comfort here below; 
On your sweet face lies the mould, and your bed is straight and 
cold — 

Near the harbour where the sea-tides ebb and flow. 



All silent — they are dumb — ^and the breezes go and come 
With an apathy that mocks at man's distress; 

Laugh, scoffer, while you may! I could bow me down and pray 
For an answer that might stay my bitterness. 

Oh, harshly screams the bird, and the wattle-bloom is stirred; 

There 's a sullen, weird-like whisper in the bough: 
"Aye, kneel and pray and weep, but his beloved sleep 

Can never be disturbed by such as thou!" 



FREDERIC WILLIAM HENRY 
MYERS 

[Born at Keswick on February 6, 1843, his father being a Keswick 
clergyman and his mother a Marshall of Hallsteads. He had a distin- 
guished career at Cheltenham and at Cambridge, where he won no less 
than six University prizes and was second in the first class both of the 
Classical and the Moral Sciences Tripos; won a reputation as a critic; and 
became a leader of the psychical research movement. He died in Rome 
on January 17, 1901. His Saini Paid (1867), an unsuccessful pri25e poem, 
was followed by Poems (1870) and The Rettewal of Youth (1882).] 

A great deal of human emotion, that is of real and urgent sig- 
nificance, js vague, and in nearly every heart escapes all attempts 
at the solace of definition. For example, most people know at 
moments the instinct for some unrealizable self-identification with 
natural phenomena. While, however, the existence and force of 
this kind of emotion is unquestionable, no poet can hope to achieve 
anything in his art until he understands that nebulous feeling, how- 
ever real it may be, is a thing that words are wholly incapable of 
expressing. Good poets have sometimes in their apprenticeship, 
before they have considered wisely the functions of their art, in- 
dulged the fallacy that leads to such writing as — 

"I yearn towards the sunset 
In the magic of the twilight, 
And the radiance of the heavens 
Fills my soul with throbbing beauty . . . 

but unless a man recovers from the error in his very green days, he 
forfeits any hope of poetic distinction. For to write thus is not to 
express mysterious and subtle emotion, but to lose oneself in an 
unintelligible foam of words. The poet, indeed, must by no means 
ignore this particular sort of emotional experience; it is far too 
universal and profound a thing for that. But it is his business to 
realize its essential value and to translate that precise value into an 
image that is capable of exact and vivid, or poetical, defim'tion in 
words. It is failure to perceive this fundamental and invariable 
necessity of the art that is the cause of nearly all the bad poetry in 
the world. 



462 THE ENGUSH POETS 

A great deal of the work of Frederic Myers, a poet of many 
gifts, suffers from this failure, though his fine classical scholarship 
ought to have saved him. His most famous and still popular 
poem, Saint Paid, has metrical interest, though the form in itself 
is apt to combine with Myers's mental method to throw an emo- 
tional haze over the work. Here and there are figures of com- 
paratively sharp definition, as in the passage here given, though 
a characteristic vagueness in the poem makes it diflScult for us to 
do more than feel that here is a fine spiritual fervour, but that our 
perception of it is incomplete because of the lack of precision in 
the poet's statement. Many of Myers's other poems are touched 
by the same -defect, but his real singing quaUty carries him hap- 
pily through shorter pieces — such as that general favourite, 
Simmenthal — often enough to give him permanently something 
at least of the fame that was so widely his in his own day. With 
secondary poetic qualities he was well equipped; he had an earnest 
curiousity about life, wide and liberal knowledge, a sensitive and 
individual rhythmical gift, considerable grace of style, and spirit- 
ual dignity; and when he was visited by the clearer poetic mood, 
and was not misled by his too volatile imagination, these fine 
natural gifts were ready to the service of his inspiration, and he 
wrote shapely verse, infused at its best with a generous temper 
and real tenderness, and now and again moving with great deli- 
cacy, as in the subtle arrangement of the last line of — 

" Across the ocean, swift and soon, 
This faded petal goes, 
To her who is herself as June, 
And lovely, and a rose.^' 

John Drinkwater. 

From "Saint Paul" 

Oft shall that flesh imperil and outweary 
Soul that would stay it in the straiter scope. 

Oft shall the chill day and the even dreary 
Force on my heart the frenzy of a hope: — 

Lo, as some ship, outworn and overladen. 
Strains for the harbour where her sails are furled; — 

Lo, as some innocent and eager maiden 
Leans o'er the wistful limit of the world, 



FREDERIC WILLIAM HENRY MYERS 463 

Dreams of the glow and glory of the distance, 

Wonderful wooing and the grace of tears, 
Dreams with what eyes and what a sweet insistence 

Lovers are waiting in the hidden years; — 

Lo, as some venturer, from his stars receiving 

Promise and presage of sublime emprise, 
Wears evermore the seal of his believing 

Deep in the dark of solitary eyes; 

Yea, to the end, in palace or in prison. 

Fashions his fancies of the reaJm to be. 
Fallen from the height or from the deeps arisen. 

Ringed with the rocks and sundered of the sea; — 

So even I, and with a pang more thrilling, 

So even I, and with a hope more sweet. 
Yearn for the sign, O Christ! of thy fulfilling, 

Faint for the flaming of thine advent feet. 



SiMMENTHAL 

Far off the old snows ever new 
With silver edges cleft the blue 

Aloft, alone, divine; 
The sunny meadows silent slept, 
Silence the sombre armies kept, 

The vanguard of the pine. 

In that thin air the birds are still, 
No ringdove murmurs on the hill 

Nor mating cushat calls; 
But gay cicalas singing sprang, 
And waters from the forest sang 

The song of waterfalls. 

O Fate! a few enchanted hours 
Beneath the firs, among the flowers, 

High on the lawn we lay, 
Then turned again, contented well, 
While bright about us flamed and fell 

The rapture of the day. 



464 THE ENGLISH POETS 

And softly with a guileless awe 
Beyond the purple lake she saw 

The embattled summits glow; 
She saw the glories melt in one, 
The round moon rise, while yet the sun 

Was rosy on the snow. 

Then like a newly singing bird 

The child's soul in her bosom stirred; 

I know not what she sung: — 
Because the soft wind caught her hair, 
Because the golden moon was fair. 

Because her heart was young. 

I would her sweet soul ever may 

Look thus from those glad eyes and grey, 

Unf earing, undefiled: 
I love her; when her face I see, 
Her simple presence wakes in me 

The imperishable child. 



Arethusa 

O gentle rushing of the stainless stream, 
Haunt of that maiden's dream! 

beech and sycamore, whose branches made 
Her dear ancestral shade! 

1 call you praying; for she felt your power 
In many an inward hour; 

To many a wild despairing mood ye gave 

Some help to heal or save. 
And sang to heavenlier trances, long and long, 

Your world-old undersong. 
Now therefore, if ye may, one moment show 

One look of long ago; 
Create from waving sprays and tender dew 

Her soft fair form anew; 
From deepening azure of those August skies 

Relume her ardent eyes! 



FREDERIC WILLIAM HENRY MYERS 465 

Or if there may not from your simlit aisle 

Be bom one flying smile, — 
In all your multitudinous music heard 

One whisper of one word, — 
Then wrap me, forest, with- thy blowing breath 

In sleep, in peace, in death; 
Bear me, swift stream, with immemorial stir, 

To love, to God, to her. 



Hesione 

In silence slept the mossy ground. 

Forgetting bird and breeze; 
In toWering silence slept around 

The Spanish chestnut-trees; 
Their trailing blossom, feathery-fair. 
Made heavy sweetness in the air. 

All night she pondered, long and long. 

Alone with lake and lawn; 
She heard a soft untimely song, 

But slept before the dawn: 
When eyes no more can wake and weep, 
A pensive wisdom comes with sleep. 

"O love," she said, "O man of men, 

O passionate and true! 
Not once in all these years again 

As once we did we do; 
What need the dreadful end to tell? 
We know it and we knew it well. 

"O love," she said, "O king of kings. 

My master and my joy, 
Are we too young for bitter things 

Who still are girl and boy? 
Too young we won, we cherish yet 
That dolorous treasure of regret." 



466 THE ENGLISH POETS 

Then while so late the heavens delayed 

The solemn trance to break, 
Her sad desiring eyes were stayed 

Beyond the lucid lake; 
She saw the grey-blue mountains stand, 
Great guardians of the charmed land. 

Above her brows she wove and woimd 

Her gold Hellenic hair; 
She stood like one whom kings have crowned 

And God has fashioned fair; — 
So sweet on wakened eyes will gleam 
The flying phantom of a dream. 

Or so, inarched in veiling vine. 
The Syran priestess sees ♦ 

Those amethystine straits enshrine 
The sleeping Cyclades; 

For Delos* height is purple still. 

The old imshaken holy hill. 

"O love," she said, "tho' sin be sin, 

And woe be bitter woe. 
Short-lived the hearts they house within, 

And they like those will go; — 
The primal Beauty, first and fair. 
Is evermore and everywhere. 

"And when the faint and fading star 

In early skies is sweet, 
In silence thither from afar 

Thy heart and mine shall meet; 
Deep seas our winged desire shall know, 
And lovely siunmer, lovely snow. 

"And whensoever bards shall sing — 

However saints shall pray — 
Whatever sweet and happy thing 

The painter brings to-day, — 
Their heavenly souls in heaven shall be. 
And thou with these, and I with thee. 



FREDERIC WILLIAM HENRY MYERS 467 

"And God," — she said, and hushed a while, 

"And God,"— but, half begun. 
Thro' tears serener than a smile, 

Her song beheld the sun: — 
When souls no more can dream and pray, 
Celestial hope will dawn with day. 



Gabkielle 

O scarlet berries sunny-bright I 

O lake alone and fair! 
O castle roaring in the night 

With blown Bohemian air I 
O spirit-haunted forest, tell 
The hidden heart of Gabrielle! 

Ah, the superb and virgin face! 

Ah once again to see 
Transparent through the Austrian grace 

The English purity! 
To hear the English speech that fell 
So soft and sweet from Gabrielle! 

So best, but if it be not so 

Yet am I well content 
To think that all things yonder grow 

Stately and innocent; 
To dream of woods that whisper well, 
And light, and peace, and Gabrielle. 



PHILIP BOURKE MARSTON 

[Born on August 13, 1850, in London. He was the son of the phy- 
sician and dramatist J. Westland Marston. Blindness in boyhood was 
followed by a life of misfortune; he lost his mother, his betrothed, his 
dearly loved and devoted sister, and his closest friend, Oliver Madox 
Brown, in bewildering and rapid succession. He met these and yet later 
disasters — one friend following another, so that scarcely one survived 
his own short life — ^with unfailing courage, but he looked pathetically 
enough for the death which came on February 14, 1887. His published 
poems were Song-tide, 1871; AU in AUy 1875; Wind Voices, 1883; Garden 
Secrets, 1887.] 

As was inevitable with men who, endowed with great energy, 
instead of being engaged as it were in some morning adventure of 
the world looked back regretfully to a long-past age of clean beauty 
across a civilization that had violated all in life that they cher- 
ished, there was in the temper of the Pre-Raphaelite poets a deep 
strain of wistfulness which is rarely found in great poetry, and is^ 
different thing from the tragic intensity that is found there com- 
monly enough. Even Keats, whose work is as poignant as that 
of any jK)et, leaves us with the impression that in creation, even 
the creation of tragic beauty, he was possessed entirely with the 
artist's joy, while in reading the great Pre-Raphaelites we feel 
always, touching all their splendid exuberance, a tremulous sad- 
ness: some touch of inescapable regret. The individual genius of 
Rossetti, Swinburne, Morris, was more than equal to disciplining 
this plaintiveness until it became no more than an added loveli- 
ness in their work, which remained positive and quick with asser- 
tion. With lesser poets, however, authentic though they were; 
who came under this same influence, made more intimate by the 
example of these masters themselves, there was a likelihood of this 
plaintiveness becoming over-insistent; and this is what happened, 
imtil the poetic emotion became diluted, the values of Hfe were 
lowered a little, and there developed the dehcate and fragrant 
but sUghtly insigm'ficant decadent poetry of the nineties. Philip 
Marston was one of the most notable of the poets with whom this 
group began, and although in him poetry kept its high dignity, 
and It was not until a little later that it became fashionable to 



PHILIP BOURKE MARSTON 469 

write of life as a pack of cards or a Chinese lantern, the over- 
prevalence of plaintiveness is already clearly marked in his verse. 
It is not that his work is the reflection of a life that was almost epic 
in its sorrows. Marston was afSicted with a wrath that was 
terrible as some visitation of the Old Testament, but while re- 
morseless personal misfortune emphasized the natural attitude 
to life which he inherited from his masters, it could not produce 

' the precise quahty of which we speak in his poetry. This was, 
rather, the product of an imagination that was never quite of the 
highest intensity. His lamentable life, indeed, far from inevitably 
influencing his work in this manner, might have touched it to a 
magnificent though profound gloom, as such misfortune has done 
with other poets. But it is as though his griefs had struck beyond 
his happiness and had impaired his poetic energy, so that he was 
,.. unable fully to control, as the greater poets of his time controlled, 
an emotion that in its place may even be admirable in poetry, but 

» which, out of its place, makes for enervation. And it is exactly 
in this way that Marston's work suffered. His natural gifts were 
->jine ones, and he cultivated them with splendid devotion. To the 
-expression of an extremely delicate susceptibility and sometimes 
of a thrilling passion, he brought a just and varied sense of word- 
values and an artistic discretion that rarely failed him, so that his 
work is hardly ever without a distinct and personal beauty. But, 
'€blscT, it la hardly ever bracing, and poetry, even in its forlorn 
moods, should brace. This same central infirmity kept him, in 
most of his poems, from achieving those radiant touches, living 
in the use of a word or the turn of a syllable, half chance and 
almost remote from reason, that so often makes the difference 
between a iK)em in which it is difficult or impossible to find a 
flaw, and one that is of manifest excellence. This is strikingly so 
in most of Marston's sonnets, of which he wrote a large number. 
In reading through them we find great technical sureness; more 
than that, we are constantly aware of a fine poetic temper, that 
keeps us securely above any feeling of tediousness, and we gladly 
allow a sweet musical movement. But it is only very rarely that 
we are stirred to the delighted admiration that greets those fortu- 
nate strokes that are a poet's chief glory. We feel constantly that 
Marston, charming poet as he was, was within a phrase of being 
a first-rate one. 

His best poems are certain of the sonnets and a few voluptu- 
ously passionate love-poems in which he attained an intensity 



470 THE ENGLISH POETS 

that was far more admirable and of far more durable worth than 
the rather trivial prettiness of The Rose and the Wind and the 
other Garden Fancies through which the anthologies have made 
him most generally known. There is, too, a grave beauty in The 
Old Churchyard of Bonchurch and such lyrics as From Far that 
shows with what poetic dignity his spirit could work when most 
truly moved. 

John Drinkwater. 

Inseparable 

When I and thou are dead, my dear, 

The earth above us lain, 
When we no more in autumn hear 

The fall of leaves and rain. 
Or round the snow-enshrouded year 

The midnight winds complain; 

When we no more in green mid-spring. 

Its sights and sounds may mind; 
The warm wet leaves set quivering 

With touches of the wind, 
The birds at mom, and birds that sing 

When day is left behind; 

When over all the moonlight lies. 

Intensely bright and still; 
When some meandering brooklet sighs, 

At parting from its hill; 
And scents from voiceless gardens rise. 

The peaceful air to fill; 

When we no more through summer light 

The deep, dim woods discern. 
Nor hear the nightingales at night, 

In vehement singing, yearn 
To stars and moon, that, dumb and bright, 

In nightly vigil bum; 

When smiles, and hopes, and joys, and fears, 

And words that lovers say, 
And sighs of love, and passionate tears 

Are lost to us for aye. 



PHILIP BOURKE MARSTON 471 

What thing of all our love appears, 
In cold and cofl&n*d clay? 

When all their kisses, sweet and dose. 

Our lips shall quite forget; 
When, where the day upon us rose, 

The day shall rise and set. 
While we for love's sublime repose 

Shall have not one regret; — 

Oh, this true comfort is, I think, 

That, be death near or far, 
When we have crossed the fatal brink, 

And foimd nor moon nor star — 
To know not, when in death we sink, 

The lifeless things we are. 

Yet one thought is, I deem, more kind, 

That when we sleep so well. 
On memories that we leave behind. 

When kindred spirits dwell. 
My name to thine in words they'll bind 

Of love inseparable. 



Persistent Music 

Lo! what am I, my heart, that I should dare 
To love her, who T^ill never love again? 
I, standing out here in the wind and rain. 

With feet unsandalled, and uncovered hair. 

Singing sad words to a still sadder air. 
Who know not even if my song's refrain — 
"Of sorrow, sorrow! loved, oh, loved in vain!" — 

May reach her where she sits and hath no care. 

But I will sing in every man's despite; 

Yea, too, and love, and sing of love until 
My music mixes with her dreams at night; 

That when Death says to me, "Lie down, be still!' 
She, pausing for my voice, and list'ning long, 
May know its silence sadder than its song. 



472 THE ENGLISH POETS 



The First Kiss 

She sat where he had left her all alone, 
With head bent back, and eyes through love on flame, 
And neck half flushed with most delicious shame, 

With hair disordered, and with loosened zone; 

She sat, and to herself made tender moan. 
As yet again in thought her lover came. 
And caught her by her hands and called her name. 

And sealed her body as her soul his own. 

The Jime moon-stricken twilight, warm, and fair, 
Closed roimd her where she sat 'neath voiceless trees. 

Full of the wonder of triiunphant prayer. 
And sense of unimagined ecstasies 

Which must be hers, she knows, yet knows not why; 

But feels thereof his kiss the prophecy. 



Bridal Eve 

Half robed, with gold hair drooped o'er shoulders white, 

She sits as one entranced, with eyes that gaze 

Upon the mirrored beauties of her face; 
And through the distances of dark and hght 
She hears faint music of the coming night; 

She hears the murmurs of receding days; 

Her future life is veiled in such a haze 
As hides, on sultry moms, the sun from sight. 

Upon the brink of imminent change she stands. 
Glad, yet afraid to look beyond the verge; 

She starts, "as at the touch of unseen hands; 
Love's music grows half anthem and half dirge. 

Strange sounds and shadows round her spirit fall, 

Yet to herself she stranger seems than all. 



PHIUP BOURKE MARSTON 473 



The Old Churchyaiu) of Bonchurch 

{This old churchyard has been for many years slipping toward the sea, 
which it is expected will tdtimately engtdf it) 

The churchyard leans to the sea with its dead — 
It leans to the sea with its dead so long. 
Do they hear, I wonder, the first bird's song, 
When the winter's anger is all but fled, 
The high, sweet voice of the west wind, 
The fall of the warm, soft rain, 
When the second month of the year 
Puts heart in the earth again? 

Do they hear, through the glad April weather, 

The green grasses waving above them? 

Do they think there are none left to love them, 

They have lain for so long there, together? 

Do they hear the note of the cuckoo, 

The cry of gulls on the wing, 

The laughter of winds and waters. 

The feet of the dancing Spring? 

Do they feel the old land slipping seaward, 
The old land, with its hills and its graves. 
As they gradually slide to the waves 
With the wind blowing on them from leeward? 
Do they know of the change that awaits them. 
The sepulchre vast and strange? 
Do they long for days to go over, 
And bring that miraculous change? 

Or they love, perhaps, their night with no moonlight. 

With no starlight, no daVm to its gloom. 

And they sigh — " 'Neath the snow, or the bloom 

Of the wild things that wave from our night, 

We are warm, through winter and summer; 

We hear the winds blow, and say — 

*The storm- wind blows over our heads, 

But we, here, are out of its way.'" 



474 THE ENGUSH POETS 

Do they mumble low, one to another, 
With a sense that the waters that thunder 
Shall ingather them all, draw them imder, 
"Ah! how long to our moving, brother? 
How long shall we quietly rest here. 
In graves of darkness and ease? 
The waves, even now, may be on us, 
To draw us down under the seas! " 

Do they think 'twill be cold when the waters 
That they love not, that neither can love them. 
Shall eternally thunder above them? 
Have they dread of the sea's shining daughters, 
That people the bright sea-regions 
And play with the young sea-kings? 
Have they dread of their cold embraces. 
And dread of all strange sea-things? 

But their dread or their joy — ^it is bootless; 
They shall pass from the breast of their mother; 
They shall lie low, dead brother by brother, 
In a place that is radiant and fruitless, 
And the folk that sail over their heads 
In violent weather 

Shall come down to them, haply, and all 
They shall lie there, together. 



From Far 

"O Love, come back, across the weary way 
Thou wentest yesterday — 

Dear Love, come back! " 

"I am too far upon my way to turn: 
Be silent, hearts that yearn 

Upon my track." 

"O Love! Love! Love! sweet Love, we are undone, 
If thou indeed be gone 

Where lost things are." 



PHIUP BOURKE MARSTON 475 

"Beyond the extremest sea's waste light and noise, 
As from Ghost-land, my voice 
Is borne afar." 

"O Love, what was our sin, that we should be 
Forsaken thus by thee? 

So hard a lot I" 

"Upon your hearts my hands and lips were set — 
My lips of fire — ^and yet, 

Ye knew me not." 

"Nay, surely. Love! We knew thee well, sweet Love I 
Did we not breathe and move 

Within thy Ught?" 

"Ye did reject my thorns who wore my roses; 
Now darkness closes 

Upon your sight." 

"O Love! stem Love! be not implacable. 
We loved thee. Love, so well! 

Come back to us." 

"To whom, and where, and by what weary way 
That I went yesterday. 

Shall I come thus?" 

"O weep, weep, weep! for Love, who tarried long 
With many a kiss and song, 

Has taken wing. 

"No more he lightens in our eyes like fire; 
He heeds not our desire, 

Or songs we sing." 



ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON 

[Born at 8 Howard Place, Edinburgh, on November 30, 1850 : the 
only child of Thomas Stevenson, dvil engineer, and his wife Maigaret 
Isabella, youngest daughter of the Rev. James Balfour of Colin ton. 
His father, who with two elder brothers, David and Alan, conducted the 
business of harbour and lighthouse engineers founded by their distin- 
guished father, Robert Stevenson, destined him from the first for the 
family profession. But weak health and a strong bias of nature foiled 
this purpose and directed him to the career of letters. His education 
was irregular, at private schools, at the Edinburgh Academy, under 
private tutors, and at the University of Edinburgh. For twenty years 
after 1873, ^ spite of nervous, arterial, and pulmonary troubles, he plied 
nearly every known mode of the literary art. Partly from ill health and 
partly from choice, he was much of a traveller. The order of the main 
incidents of his life as a writer is as follows: — 1874-9: lived chiefly at 
Edinburgh, with occasional visits to London and long sojourns at 
Barbizon, Grez, and Paris: published The Itdand Voyage, Travels wUh a 
Donkey, Edinburgh: Picturesque Notes, and New Arabian Nights. — 1879- 
80: travelled to and returned from California, where he was married to 
Mrs. Fanny van de Grift Osboume. — 1880-4: passed two summers 
in Scotland and two winters at Davos, a few months at Marseilles, 
and a year at Hyires: published Treasure Island, Virginibus Puerisque, 
Familiar Studies of Men and Books, and The Silverado Squatters. — 1884-7: 
settled at Bournemouth, living invalid life: published A Child's Garden 
of Verses, Prince Otto, The Dynamiters, Jekyll and Hyde, Kidnapped, The 
Merry Men, Underwoods, and Memories and Portraits: wrote pla3rs in col- 
laboration with W. E. Henley. — 1887-90: sailed with his family to Amer- 
ica; wintered at Saranac Lake in the Adirondacks; starting from San ' 
Francisco in the spring of 1888, took three successive ocean voyages 
among the Pacific Islands: published Ballads, The Master of BaUantrae, 
and Letter to the Rev. Doctor ^yrfe.— 1890-4: built and settled at 
"Vailima," island of Upolu, Samoa: published In the Sotdh Seas, The 
Wrecker, A Footnote to History, Island Nights* Entertainments, Cairiona, 
Across the Plains, The Ebb-Tide. Died suddenly December 4, 1894.— 
Songs of Travel and the imfinished novels Weir of Hermiston and St. Ives 
were published posthumously.] 

"Poetry," wrote Walter Savage Lander, "was always my 
amusement, prose my study and business." Much the same 



ROBERT Wins STEVENSON 477 

thing might truly have been said of that very different personage, 
Robert Louis Stevenson. He once wrote of himself that he was 
"a poetical character with a prose talent." There was no time in 
his literary life when the chief part of his industry and effort was 
not given to prose: there was no time when he was not also accus- 
tomed occasionally to write verse. And though it was the pre- 
ponderance and excellence of his work in prose that chiefly won 
and holds for him his place in literature, yet the charm and power 
of his spirit are to be felt scarcely less in the relatively small and 
unassuming body of his poetry. He wrote in verse generally 
when he was too' tired to write in prose, and almost always from 
one of two impulses: either to give direct expression to personal 
moods and affections or else to exercise himself in the technical 
practice of this or that poetic form. The two impulses sometimes, 
of course, worked together to a single result: but as a rule the 
stronger the pressure of the immediate feeling that moved him, 
the simpler, more traditional and ready to hand was the form he 
chose for expressing it. Although an acute and interested student 
of poetic forms and measures, he was, with one or two exceptions 
presently to be noted, no great metrical innovator on his own 
accoimt. Neither did he consider that he had a right to be re- 
garded as a lyrical or "singing" poet at all. In a letter written to 
Mr. John Addington S)mionds not long after the publication of 
his volume Underwoods, he defined with his usual modesty his 
own view of his poetical status and affinities: "I wonder if you 
saw my book of verses? It went into a second edition, because of 
my name, I suppose, and its prose merits. I do not set up to be 
a poet. Only an all-roimd literary man : a man who talks, not one 
who sings. But I believe the very fact that it was only speech 
served the book with the public. Horace is much a speaker, and 
see how popular! most of Martial is only speech, and I cannot 
conceive a person who does not love his Martial; most of Bums 
also. Excuse this httle apology for my house; but I don't like to 
come before people who have a note of song, and let it be supposed 
I do not know the difference." 

A man writes verses at eighteen if ever, and at that age Steven- 
son records that he was busy with a tragedy of Semiramis in 
imitation of Webster and a series of sentimental putpourings of 
his own which he called Voces Fidelium. Neither of these ever 
saw the light. When he first came in touch with literary circles 
five years later, his mind seemed concentrated on the single en- 



478 THE ENGLISH POETS 

deavour of achieving a prose style that should match and truly- 
express the vividness of his perceptions and imaginings, and 
poetry seemed hardly to be in his thoughts at all. But I believe 
he was already beginning to try his hand at some of those pieces 
in the Lothian vernacular which were afterwards pubUshed in 
Underwoods, and of which two are included in the present selec- 
tion, as well as at confessions and meditations in various modes 
of EngUsh verse. 

A couple of years later again, when Stevenson began to frequent 
the Fontainebleau region, we find him for a while much taken up 
with the study of Charles d'0rl6ans and with the attempt, then 
in fashion among his friends, to imitate in English the Old French 
forms of ballade, rondeau, triolet, &c. His letters at this time were 
apt to contain experiments of this kind, sometimes, like his trans- 
lation of Notis n*irons plus au hois, as happy in execution as deep 
and sincere in feeling. While he was absent, to the anxious con- 
cern of his friends, on his marriage expedition to California in 
1879, and suffering with high courage much illness and privation, 
he sometimes cast into unstudied but deeply felt verse the emo- 
tions of the time: to this period belong the lines beginning "Not 
yet, my soul, these friendly fields desert," as well as thfe famous 
Requiem, perhaps his best known utterance in verse. 

During the six invalid years on the Continent or in England 
that followed, the tale of such occasional poems, composed in 
self-confession or as addresses to friends, continued to grow, but 
he showed no signs of intending to publish them. Occasionally 
there came a metrical experiment, like the set of alcaics addressed 
to Mr. Horatio Brown at Davos and beginning "Brave lads in 
olden musical centuries," perhaps the second-best achievement 
of this pattern in our literature after Tennyson's ode to Milton. 
Once at the same place the tragic death of a friend's son drew 
from him those consolatory stanzas In Memoriam F, A, S., which 
have since comforted so many stricken hearts and of which the 
rhythm and cadence are at once so personal and so moving. But 
as a rule he preferred to employ the most familiar vehicles, espe- 
cially the four-stressed couplet or blank verse, — sl blank verse of 
no very studied or complicated structure, perhaps more resem- 
bling that of Landor in his occasional and comphmentary pieces 
than any other model. 

It was during Stevenson's stay at Hyeres in 1883-4 that his 
friends became aware of a new departure he was beginning to 



ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON 479 

make in verse. He took to sending home, first in batches and 
then in sheaves, sets of nursery verses reviving, with a fidelity and 
freshness imparalleled, the feelings and fancies, the doings and 
beings, of an imaginative child; the child being of course truly 
himself. "Penny Whistles" was his name for them: and after 
returning to England and settling at Bournemouth in 1884 he 
gathered them into a volume under the new title A Child's Garden 
of Verses, This was his first published book of verse. Partly for 
that reason, partly because of the period of hfe with which they 
deal, I have put specimens from it at the head of the following 
selections. 

Having once thus come before the public as a writer of verse, 
he next gathered together what he thought the pick of his occa- 
sional and experimental efforts both in English and in Scots, and 
published them in a volume of which he borrowed the title. Under- 
woods , from Ben Jonson. In the English portion of the book 
many of his private affections and experiences, and some of his 
thoughts and observations as a traveller, are recorded in no such 
strain of briUiant and high-wrought craftsmanship as he main- 
tains in his prose, but for the most part in modes which attract 
and satisfy by a certain quiet, companionable grace and unobtru- 
sive distinction of their own. The attempt to revive the measures 
and the dialect of Bums, and yet not to be a slavish imitator of 
his spirit, has been a stiunbling-block to almost all who have 
ventured on it: but here, too, Stevenson's personality has strength 
enough to assert itself through a wide range of mood, from the 
satire, smiling but not without its sting, of A Lowden Sabbath 
Morn to the heartfelt recollections of Ille Terrarum. Of this 
section of Stevenson's work two short contrasted examples will 
be foimd below. 

When in 1887 Stevenson left England once more, and as it 
turned out for good and all, he carried with him both the habit 
of throwing his immediate personal emotions into simple and 
heartfelt occasional verse and that of trying his hand deliberately 
at new styles and measures. This time his new technical experi- 
ments were in the ballad form. The first, Ticonderoga^ a tale of 
Highland second-sight during the American War of Independence, 
was written at the Adirondacks at the beginning of winter, 1887. 
During the eighteen months of seafaring in the Pacific archipel- 
agos which followed, he took an intense interest in the native 
island populations and their traditions, partly because of resem- 



48o THE ENGLISH POETS 

blances he found between them and those of the Scottish High- 
lands, and wrote two long and vigorous ballads in a swinging 
six-beat and triple-time measure on subjects of island history, 
Rahero and The Feast of Famine. It is no doubt due to the re- 
moteness of the scenes, names, and manners, as well as to the fact 
that prose narrative, not verse, was what his pubhc were used to 
expect from him, that these ballads have had less success than 
almost any of his writings. When in 1890 they were reprinted in 
a volvmie, he included with them two others more familiar in 
theme, the Galloway story of Heather Ale, and the English one, 
told with fine spirit in the first person, Christmas at Sea: as a 
specimen of his narrative poetry I have chosen this last. 

Meanwhile the growth of Stevenson's mind and deepening of 
his character, together with his sense of exile — ^voluntary, but 
exile none the less — from old scenes and friendships, seemed to 
give every year a richer and fuller note to the occasional medi- 
tations or addresses to his friends in verse which he continued to 
send home. The more remote and solitary the island haunt from 
whence he wrote, the more poignant seemed his recollections of 
Scotland or of London; and once at any rate, in the verses To S. R. 
Crockett given below, he showed a touch of something like metrical 
genius in his manner of taking over a phrase from a prose dedi- 
cation and turning it into verse of a new and very moving rh)^hm. 
After his sudden death at Vailima in December, 1894, a volume, 
partly prepared by himself, of these later occasional verses, to- 
gether with some of earlier date that had not previously been 
collected, was published under the title Songs of Travel. From 
this volvune our concluding specimens are taken. 

Sidney Colvin. 



Windy Nights* 

Whenever the moon and stars are set. 

Whenever the wind is high, 
All night long in the dark and wet 

A man goes riding by 
Late in the night when the fires are out. 
Why does he gallop and gallop about? 

" P^! !i;3 *S*^n°5*^»"*f ^^®e*^***°T^ from Stevenson are reprinted by permission from 
ScnS's^n? ^^ Stevenson, copyright 1895-1913. by Charles 



ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON 481 

Whenever the trees are crying aloud, 

And ships are tossed at sea,- 
By, on the highway, low and loud, 

By at the gallop goes her 
By at the gallop he goes, and then 
By he comes back at the gallop again. 



Singing 

Of speckled eggs the birdie sings 
And nests among the trees; 

The sailor sings of ropes and things 
In ships upon the seas. 

The children sing in far Japan, 
The children sing in Spain; 

The organ with the organ man 
Is singing in the rain. 



The Lamplighter 

My tea is nearly ready and the sun has left the sky; 

It's time to take the window to see Leerie going by; 

For every night at tea-time and before you take your seat. 

With lantern and with ladder he comes posting up the street. 

Now Tom would be a driver and Maria go to sea. 

And my papa's a banker and as rich as he can be; 

But I, when I am stronger and can choose what I'm to do, 

O Leerie, I'll go round at night and light the lamps with you! 

For we are very lucky, with a lamp before the door, 
And Leerie stops to light it as he lights so many more; 
And O! before you hurry by with ladder and with light, 
O Leerie, see a little child and nod to him to-night I 



482 THE ENGUSH POETS 

North-west Passage 

I. Good Night 

When the bright lamp is carried in, 
The sunless hours again begin; 
0*er all without, in field and lane. 
The haunted night returns again. 

Now we behold the embers flee 
About the firelit hearth; and see 
Our faces painted as we pass, 
Like pictures, on the window-glass. 

Must we to bed indeed? Well then, 
Let us arise and go like men, 
And face with an undaimted tread 
The long black passage up to bed. 

Farewell, O brother, sister, sire! 
O pleasant party round the fire! 
The songs you sing, the tales you tell, 
Till far to-morrow, fare ye well! 



2. Shadow March 

All roimd the house is the jet-black night; 

It stares through the window-pane; 
It crawls in the corners, hiding from the light. 

And it moves with the moving flame. 

Now my little heart- goes a-beating like a dnmi. 
With the breath of the Bogie in my hair; 

And all round the candle the crooked shadows come 
And go marching along up the stair. 

The shadow of the balusters, the shadow of the lamp, 
The shadow of the child that goes to bed — 

All the wicked shadows coming, tramp, tramp, tramp, 
With the black night overhead. 



ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON 483 



3. In Port 

Last, to the chamber where I h'e 
My fearful footsteps patter nigh, 
And come from out the cold and gloom 
Into my warm and cheerful room. 

There, safe arrived, we turn about 
To keep the coming shadows out, 
And close the happy door at last 
On all the perils that we past. 

Then, when mamma goes by to bed, 
She shall come in with tip-toe tread, 
And see me Ijdng warm and fast 
And in the Land of Nod at last. 



A Visit from the Sea 

Far from the loud sea beaches 
Where he goes fishing and crjdng, 

Here in the inland garden 
Why is the sea-gull flying? 

Here are no fish to dive for; 

Here is the com and lea; 
Here are the green trees rustling, 

Hie away home to sea! 

Fresh is the river water 
And quiet among the rushes; 

This is no home for the sea-gull. 
But for the rooks and thrushes. 

Pity the bird that has wandered! 

Pity the sailor ashore! 
Hurry him home to the ocean. 

Let him come here no more! 



484 THE ENGLISH POETS 

High on the sea-cliff ledges 

The white gulls are trooping and crying. 
Here among rooks and roses, 

Why is the sea-gull flying? 

The House Beautlfxjl 

A naked house, a naked moor, 
A shivering pool before the door, 
A garden hare of flowers andfruU 
And poplars at the garden foot: 
Such is the place that I live in, 
Bleak without and hare within. 

Yet shall your ragged moor receive 
The incomparable pomp of eve, 
And the cold glories of the dawn 
Behind your shivering trees be drawn; 
And when the wind from place to place 
Doth the unmoored cloud-galleons chase, 
Your garden gloom and gleam again, 
With leaping sun, with glancing rain. 
Here shall the wizard moon ascend 
The heavens, in the crimson end 
Of day's declining splendour; here 
The army of the stars appear. 
The neighbour hollows, dry or wet, 
Spring shall with tender flowers beset; 
And oft the morning muser see 
Larks rising from the broomy lea, 
And every fairy wheel and thread 
Of cobweb dew-bediamonded. 
When daisies go, shall winter time 
Silver the simple grass with rime; 
Autumnal frosts enchant the pool 
And make the cart-ruts beautiful; 
And when snow-bright the moor expands, 
How shall your children clap their hands! 
To make this earth, our hermitage, 
A cheerful and a changeful page, 
God's bright and intricate device 
Of days and seasons doth suffice. 



ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON 485 

To K. DE M. 

A lover of the moorland bare 

And honest country winds you were; 

The silver-skimming rain you took; 

And loved the floodings of the brook, 

Dew, frost and mountains, fire and seas, 

Tumultuary silences. 

Winds that in darkness fifed a tune, 

And the high-riding, virgin moon. 

And as the berry, pale and sharp. 
Springs on some ditch's counterscarp 
In our imgenial, native north — 
You put your frosted wildings forth. 
And on the heath, afar from man, 
A strong and bitter virgin ran. 

The berry ripened keeps the rude 
And racy flavour of the wood. 
And you that loved the empty plain 
All redolent of wind and rain, 
Aroimd you still the curlew sings — 
The freshness of the weather clings — 
The maiden jewels of the rain 
Sit in your dabbled locks again. 

In Memoriam F. A. S. 

Yet, O stricken heart, remember, O remember 
How of himian days he lived the better part. 

April came to bloom and never dim December 
Breathed its killing chills upon the head or heart. 

Doomed to know not Winter, only Spring, a being 
Trod the flowery April blithely for a while, 

Took his fill of music, joy of thought and seeing, 
Came and stayed and went, nor ever ceased to smile. 

Came and stayed and went, and now when all is finished. 
You alone have crossed the melancholy stream. 

Yours the pang, but his, O his, the undiminished 
Undecaying gladness, imdeparted dream. 



486 THE ENGLISH POETS 

All that life contains of torture, toil, and treason 
Shame, dishonour, death, to him were but a name. 

Here, a boy, he dwelt through all the singing season, 
And ere the day of sorrow departed as he came. 



To F. J. S. 

I read, dear friend, in your dear face 
Your life's tale told with jjerfect grace; 
The river of your life I trace 
Up the sun-chequered, devious bed 
To the far-distant foimtain-head. 

Not one quick beat of your warm heart, 
Nor thought that came to you apart, 
Pleasure nor pity, love nor pain 
Nor sorrow, has gone by in vain; 

But as some lone, wood-wandering child 
Brings home with him at evening mild 
The thorns and flowers of all the wild, 
From your whole life, O fair and true, 
Your flowers and thorns you bring with you! 



N 



"Say not of Me." 

Say not of me that weakly I declined 
The labours of my sires, and fled the sea, 
The towers we founded and the lamps we lit, 
To play at home with paper like a child. 
But rather say: In the afternoon of time 
A strenuous family dusted from its hands 
The sand of granite^ and beholding far 
Along the sounding coast its pyramids 
And tall memorials catch ^he dying sun, 
Smiled weU content, and to this childish task 
Around the fire addressed its evening hours. 



ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON 487 

Requiem 

Under the wide and starry sky, 
Dig the grave and let me lie. v 
Glad did I live and gladly die, 
And I laid me down with a will. 
This be the verse you grave for me: 
Here he lies where he longed to he; 
Home is the sailor, home from sea, 
And the hunter home from the hiU, 



A Mile an' a Bittock 

A mile an' a bittock, a mile or twa, 
Abiine the bum, ayont the law, 
Davie an' Donal' an' Cherlie an' a'. 
An' the miine was shinin' clearly! 

Ane went hame wi' the ither, an' then 
The ither went hame wi' the ither twa men, 
An' baith wad return him the service again, 
An' the mune was shinin' clearly! 

The docks were chappin' in house an' ha', 
Eleeven, twal an' ane an' twa; 
An' the guidman's face was tumt to the wa' 
An' the miine was shinin' clearly! 

A wind got up frae affa the sea. 
It blew the stars as dear's could be. 
It blew in the een of a' o' the three, 
An' the miine was shinin' clearly! 

Noo, Davie was first to get sleep in his head, 
"The best o' frien's maim twine," he said; 
"I'm weariet, an' here I'm awa' to my bed." 
An' the miine was shinin' dearly! 

Twa o' them walkin' an' crackin' their lane. 
The momin' licht cam grey an' plain. 
An' the birds they yammert on stick an' stane. 
An' the miine was shinin' clearly! 



488 THE ENGLISH POETS 

O years ayont, O years awa', 
My lads, ye'll mind whate'er befa' — 
My lads, ye'll mind on the bield o* the law. 
When the miine was shinin' dearly. 



The Counterblast Ironical 

It's strange that God should fash to frame 

The yearth and lift sae hie, 
An' clean forget to explain the same 

To a gentleman Uke me. 

Thae gusty, donnered ither folk. 

Their weird they weel may dree; 
But why present a pig in a poke 

To a gentleman like me? 

Thae ither folk their parritch eat 

An' sup their sugared tea; 
But the mind is no' to be wyled wi' meat 

Wi' a gentleman like me. 

Thae ither folk, they court their joes 

At gloamin' on the lea; 
But they're made of a commoner clay, I suppose, 

Than a gentleman like me. 

Thae ither folk, for richt or wrang. 

They suflFer, bleed, or dee; 
But a' thir things are an emp'y sang 

To a gentleman like me. 

It's a different thing that I demand, 

Tho' humble as can be — 
A statement fair in my maker's hand 

To a gentleman like me. 

A dear accoimt writ fair an broad 

An' a plain apologie; 
Or the deevil a ceevil word to God 

From a gentleman like me. 



ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON 489 



Christmas at Sea 

The sheets were frozen hard, and they cut the naked hand; 
The decks were like a slide, where a seaman scarce could stand; 
The wind was a nor*-wester, blowing squally ofiF the sea; 
And cliflfs and spouting breakers were the only things a-lee. 

They heard the surf a-roaring before the break of day; 
But 'twas only with the peep of light we saw how ill we lay. 
We tiunbled every hand on deck instanter, with a shout, 
And we gave her the maintops'l, and stood by to go about. 

All day we tacked and tacked between the South Head and the 

North; 
All day we hauled the frozen sheets, and got no further forth; 
All day as cold as charity, in bitter pain and dread, 
For very life and nature we tacked from head to head. 

We gave the South a wider berth, for there the tide-race roared; 
But every tack we made we brought the North Head close aboard: 
So's we saw the cliffs and houses, and the breakers running 

high, 
And the coastguard in his garden, with his glass against his eye. 

The frost was on the village roofs as white as ocean foam; 
The good red fires were burning bright in every * longshore home; 
The windows sparkled dear, and the chimneys volleyed out; 
And I vow we sniffed the victuals as the vessel went about. 

The bells upon the church were rung with a mighty jovial cheer; 
For it's just that I should tell you how (of all days in the year) 
This day of our adversity was blessed Christmas morn. 
And the house above the coastguard's was the house where I was 
bom. 

O well I saw the pleasant room, the pleasant faces there, 

My mother's silver spectacles, my father's silver hair; 

And well I saw the firelight, like a flight of homely elves. 

Go dancing round the china plates that stand upon the shelves* 



490 THE ENGLISH POETS 

And well I knew the talk they had, the talk that was of me, 

Of the shadow on the household and the son that went to sea; 

And O the wicked fool I seemed, in every kind of way, 

To be here and hauling frozen ropes on blessed Christmas Day. 

They ht the high sea-light, and the dark began to fall. 
"All hands to loose topgallant sails," I heard the captain call. 
"By the Lord, she'll never stand it," our first mate, Jackson, cried. 
. . . "It's the one way or the other, Mr. Jackson," he replied. 

She staggered to her bearings, but the sails were new and good, 
And the ship smelt up to windward just as though she under- 
stood, 
As the winter's day was ending, in the entry of the night, 
We cleared the weary headland, and passed below the light. 

And they heaved a mighty breath, every soul on board but me, 
As they saw her nose again pointing handsome out to sea; 
But all that I could think of, in the darkness and the cold. 
Was just that I was leaving home and my folks were growing old. 



"I WILL MAKE You BrOOCHES" 

I will make you brooches and toys for your delight 
Of bird-song at morning and star-shine at night. 
I will make a palace fit for you and me 
Of green days in forests and blue days at sea. 

I will make my kitchen, and you shall keep your room. 
Where white flows the river and bright blows the broom. 
And you shall wash your linen and keep your body white 
In rainfall at morning and dewfall at night. 

And this shall be for music when no one else is near, 
The fine song for singing, the rare song to hear! 
That only I remember, that only you admire. 
Of the broad road that stretches and the roadside fire. 



ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON 491 

"Bright is the Ring of Words." 

Bright is the ring of words 

When the right man rings them, 
Fair the fall of songs 

When the singer sings them. 
Still they are carolled and said — 

On wings they are carried — 
After the singer is dead 

And the maker buried. 

Low as the singer lies 

In the field of heather, 
Songs of his fashion bring 

The swains together. 
And when the west is red 

With the sunset embers, 
The lover lingers and sings 

And the maid remembers. 



My Wite 

Trusty, dusky, vivid, true. 
With eyes of gold and bramble-dew, 
Steel-true and blade-straight. 
The great artificer 
Made my mate. 

Honour, anger, valour, fire; 
A love that life could never tire, 
Death quench or evil stir. 
The mighty master 
Gave to her. 

Teacher, tender, comrade, wife, 
A fellow-farer true through life. 
Heart-whole and soul-free 
The august father 
Gave to me. 



492 THE ENGLISH POETS 

If this were Faith 

God, if this were enough, 

That I see things here to the buff 

And up to the buttocks in mire; 

That I ask nor hope nor hire, 

Nut in the husk, 

Nor dawn beyond the dusk, 

Nor life beyond death: 

God, if this were faith? 

Having felt Thy wind in my face 

Spit sorrow and disgrace, 

Having seen Thine evil doom 

In Golgotha and Khartoum, 

And the brutes, the work of Thine hands, 

Fill with injustice lands 

And stain with blood the sea: 

If still in my veins the glee 

Of the black night and the sun 

And the lost battle, run: 

If, an adept. 

The iniquitous lists I still accept 

With joy, and joy to endure and be withstood. 

And still to battle and perish for a dream of good: 

God, if that were enough? 

If to feel in the ink of the sloughy 

And the sink of the mire. 

Veins of glory and fire 

Rim through and transpierce and transpire. 

And a secret purpose of glory in every part. 

And the answering glory of battle fill my heart; 

To thrill with the joy of girded men. 

To go on for ever and fail and go on again. 

And be mauled to the earth and arise, 

And contend for the shade of a word and a thing not seen with 

the eyes: 
With the half of a broken hope for a pillow at night 
That somehow the right is the right 
And the smooth shall bloom from the rough: 
Lord, if that were enough? 



ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON 4Q3 



(to the Tune of Wandering Willie) 

Home no more home to me, whither must I wander? 

Himger my driver, I go where I must. 
Cold blows the winter wind over hill and heather; 

Thick drives the rain, and my roof is in the dust. 
Loved of wise men was the shade of my roof-tree, 

The true word of welcome was spoken in the door — 
Dear days of old, with the faces in the firelight, 

Kind folks of old, you come again no more. 

, Home was home then, my dear, full of kindly faces, 

Home was home then, my dear, happy for the child. 
Fire and the windows bright glittered on the moorland. 

Song, timeful song, built a palace in the wild. 
Now, when day dawns on the brow of the moorland. 

Lone stands the house, and the chimney-stone is cold. 
Lone let it stand, now the friends are all departed, 

The kind hearts, the true hearts, that loved the place of old. 

Spring shall come, come again, calling up the moor-fowl, 

Spring shall bring the sim and rain, bring the bees and flowers; 
Red shall the heather bloom over hill and valley, 

Soft flow the stream through the even-flowing hours; 
Fair the day shine as it shone on my childhood — 

Fair shine the day on the house with op>en door; 
Birds come and cry there and twitter in the chimney — 

But I go for ever and come again no more. 



To S. C. 

I heard the pulse of the besieging sea 

Throb far away all night. I heard the wind 

Fly crying and convulse tumultuous palms. 

I rose and strolled. The isle was all bright sand. 

And flailing fans and shadows of the palm; 

The heaven all moon and wind and the blind vault; 

The keenest planet slain, for Venus slept. 



494 THE ENGLISH POETS 

The King, my nei^bour, with his host of wives, 
Slept in the precinct of the palisade; 
Where single, in the wind, under the moon. 
Among the slimibering cabins, blazed a fire, 
Sole street-lamp and the only sentinel. 

To other lands and nights my fancy turned — 
To London first, and chiefly to your house. 
The many-pillared and the well-beloved. 
There yearning fancy lighted; there again 
In the upper room I lay, and heard far off 
The imsleeping city murmur like a shell; 
The muffled tramp of the Museum guard 
Once more went by me; I beheld again 
Lamps vainly brighten the dispeopled street; 
Again I longed for the returning mom. 
The awaking traffic, the bestirring birds. 
The consentaneous trill of tiny song 
That weaves round monumental cornices 
A passing charm of beauty. Most of all. 
For your light foot I wearied, and your knock 
That was the glad r6veill6 of my day. 

Lo, now, when to your task in the great house 
At morning through the portico you p)ass. 
One moment glance, where by the pillared wall 
Far-voyaging island gods, begrimed with smoke, 
Sit now unworshipped, the rude monument 
Of faiths forgot and races undivined; 
Sit now disconsolate, remembering well 
The priest, the victim, and the songful crowd. 
The blaze of the blue noon, and that huge voice, 
Incessant, of the breakers on the shore. 
As far as these from their ancestral shrine, 
So far, so foreign, your divided friends 
Wander, estranged in body, not in mind. 

Apemama. 



ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON 495 



"The Tropics vanish" 

The tropics vanish, and meseems that I, 

From Halkerside, from topmost Allermuir, 

Or steep Caerketton, dreaming gaze again. 

Far set in fields and woods, the town I see 

Spring gallant from the shallows of her smoke, 

Cragged, spired, and turreted, her virigin fort 

Beflagged. About, on seaward-drooping hills. 

New folds of city glitter. Last, the Forth 

Wheels ample waters set with sacred isles, 

And populous Fife smokes with a score of towns 

There, on the sunny frontage of a hill. 

Hard by the house of kings, repose the dead. 

My dead, the ready and the strong of word. 

Their works, the salt-^ncrusted, still survive; 

The sea bombards their founded towers; the night 

Thrills pierced with their strong lamps. The artificers, 

One after one, here in this grated cell, 

Where the rain erases and the rust consmnes, 

Fell upon lasting silence. Continents 

And continental oceans intervene; 

A sea uncharted, on a lampless isle. 

Environs and confines their wandeiing child 

In vain. The voice of generations dead 

Summons me, sitting distant, to arise, 

My nimierous footsteps nimbly to retrace. 

And, all mutation over, stretch me down 

In that denoted city of the dead. 

Afemama. 



Tropic Rain 

As the single pang of the blow, when the metal is mingled well, 
Rings and lives and resounds in all the bounds of the bell, 
So the thunder above spoke with a single tongue, 
So in the heart of the mountain the sound of it rumbled and clung. 



496 THE ENGLISH POETS 

Sudden the thunder was drowned — quenched was the levin light — 
And the angel-spirit of rain laughed out loud in the night. 
Loud as the maddened rivers in the cloven glen, 
Angel of rain! you laughed and leaped on the roofs of men; 

And the sleepers sprang in their beds, and joyed and feared as you 

feU. 
You struck, and my cabin quailed; the roof of it roared like a 

bell. 
You spoke, and at once the mountain shouted and shook with 

brooks. 
You ceased, and the day returned, rosy, with virgin looks. 

And methought that beauty and terror are only one, not two; 
And the world has room for love, and death, and thimder, and 

dew, 
And all the sinews of hell slumber in summer air; 
And the face of God is a rock, but the face of the rock is fair. 
Beneficent streams of tears flow at the finger of pain; 
And out of the cloud that smites, beneficent rivers of rain. 

Vaiuma. 

To S. R. Crockett 
(on receiving a dedication) 

Blows the wind to-day, and the sun and the rain are fl)dng, 
Blows the wind on the moors toKlay and now, 

Where about the graves of the martyrs the whaups are crying. 
My heart remembers how! 

Grey reciunbent tombs of the dead in desert places. 
Standing-stones on the vacant wine-red moor. 

Hills of sheep, and the homes of the silent vanished races. 
And winds, austere and pure: 

Be it granted me to behold you a^ain in d)dng, 

Hills of home! and to hear again the call; 
Hear about the graves of the martyrs the peewees crying, 

And hear no more at all. 

Vaildca. 



ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON 497 



Evensong 

The embers of the day are red 

Beyond the murky hill. 

The kitchen smokes; the bed 

In the darkling house is spread: 

The great sky darkens overhead, 

And the great woods are shrill. 

So far have I been led, 

Lord, by thy will: 

So far I have followed. Lord, and wondered still. 

The breeze from the embalmed land 

Blows sudden towards the shore. 

And claps my cottage door. 

I hear the signal. Lord — ^I understand. 

The night at thy conmiand 

Comes. I will eat and sleep and will not question more. 

Vailima. 



WILLIAM ERNEST HENLEY 

[W. E. Henley, b. 1849, eldest son of William Henley, a Gloucester 
bookseller, educated at the Crypt School, Gloucester, under T. E. 
Brown, afterwards well known as a Clifton master and as the Manx 
poet. From his twelfth year Henley suffered from a tuberculous dis- 
ease; one foot was amputated before he was twenty; then he went into 
hospital at Edinbui^gh for nearly two years, where the other leg was 
saved by the skill of Sir Joseph Lister. In 1877 he was well enough to 
begin a literary life in London, where he wrote criticism for many papers 
and magazines, and edited the Magazine of Art (1882-6) and the Scots 
Observer (at Edinburgh), which became the National Observer in 189 1. 
From time to time he had also been writing verse, which he collected and 
published under various titles between 1888 and 1892, when the London 
Voluntaries appeared. With R. L. Stevenson he joined in writing foiu" 
plays, of which Beau Austin and Deacon Brodie became well known on 
the English and American stage. His work as an editor of old and new 
literature was also varied and abundant, reaching from the Edinburgh 
folio of Shakespeare to the collected poems of his old teacher, T. E. 
Brown. Henley married Miss Anna Boyle in 1878, and was the father 
of one child, Margaret, who was the "Reddy" of J. M. Barriers Senti- 
mental Tommy; she died at five years old, in 1894. Nine years later, in 
1903, Henley died at Woking, having achieved, though a lifelong in- 
valid, a vast quantity of literary work, and became a kind of leader of 
a whole school of critics, literary, aesthetic, and in the wider sense 
political.] 

Of W. E. Henley it may be said more truthfully than of any 
other poet that he "learned in suffering what he taught in song." 
An enforced visit to the Old Infirmary of Edinburgh was for him 
the active beginning of his poetic life. With the simple faith which 
always inspired him, he sought in a strange city the one surgeon 
of his trust. He found what was no less precious than the healing 
hand of Lister, experience and literary comradeship. The hos- 
pital, "cold, naked, clean, half-workhouse and half-jail," was his 
University. Within its grey walls he made himself master of 
French and Spanish and laid the foundations of a soimd scholar- 
ship. Ill the " transformed back-kitchen where he lay " he studied 



WILLIAM ERNEST HENLEY 499 

many literatures, he knit closely many friendships. Thence he 
sent his first essays in verse to the CornhUl Magazine; there Leslie 
Stephen and Robert Louis Stevenson discovered him. Yet it was 
not they who first recognized his talent. It had been his good 
fortune to learn the rudiments at the Crypt School of Gloucester, 
from T. E. Brown, who encouraged him in his boyhood with good 
counsel and a gift of books. From T. E. Brown's point of view, 
Henley wrote years afterwards, " 'the Gloucester episode' was, I 
take it, an unpleasing and ridiculous experiment. From mine it 
was an unqualified success: since it made him known to me, 
and . . . discovered me the beginnings, the true material, of my- 
self." 

Thus it was that when he came to Edinburgh, Henley was al- 
ready dedicated to letters. He had attempted both prose and 
verse. He had written the parodies of Swinburne which were 
incident to the youth of his generation. He had made a brief 
acquaintanceship with Fleet Street. But the Old Infirmary gave 
him a new vision of things and a fresh style. His series In Hos- 
pital showed him at once a finished craftsman^ a stem and sure 
critic of his own work. In u nrhymed verse, economical of phrase 
and sternly castigated, he recorded, with abundant cheerfulness 
and without a hint of despair, the sights and sounds of the grim 
Infirmary. When after many years of hopeless waiting he got 
these first poems published, they were described in the jargon of the 
hour as " realistic." Their material was real enough — that is true; 
but so keen was Henley's sense of selection, that the mere hint of 
"realism" was an injustice. He was but turning into poetry with 
a poet's skill the patiently observed life about him, and sacrificing 
nothing of his art to the realist's love of facts. He watched the 
hardship and squalor of the hospital with equanimity, but, as 
Meredith has said, "when he was restored to companionship 
with his fellows one involuntary touch occurs in his verse to tell 
of the suffering he had passed through. He rejoiced in the smell 
of the streets. There we have the lover of life arising from the 
depths. Such was the man." 

He was; as I have said, a stem critic of himself. He had no love 
of short cuts or easy methods. He obeyed the injunction of 
Horace, and kept his poems long under the file. Above all he was 
the faithful servant of tradition, and when he wrote in unrh)mied 
verse he was conscious of the chain which bound him to the past, 
and held in his memory the noble choruses of Samson Agonistes, 



Soo TEE ENGLISH POETS 

In his love of long words — "the irreclaimable menace of the sea," 
"the immiagined vastitudes beyond," "the imanswering gen- 
erations of the dead" — ^he proved hims elf a true pupil of Milton , 
Yet so near were his thought and vision to the true world of com- 
mon things that he took a frank delight in familiar images. The 
moon for him is "a clown's face flour'd for work," vember is 
" the old lean widow." The class in the hospital hurrying through 
the ward after the chief suggests to him 

"the ring 
Seen from behind round a conjurer 
Doing his pitch in the street." 

Still more greatly daring he compares the lighthouse, the guide to 
the "stalwart ships," with 

"The tall Policeman, 

Flashing his bull's-eye, as he peers 

About him in the ancient vacancy, 

Tells them this way is safety — this way home." 

Thus he touched with a vivid life, all his own, the old harmonies, 
and was amply justified of his courage. But it was London and 
its river— "O River of Journeys, River of Dreams" — ^which in- 
spired him to his noblest poems. The London Voluntaries show 
most clearly the magician that he was. "Light of the skies play- 
ing upon smoky vapour, city scenery, city crowds" — ^these were 
the motives of his Voluntaries, and he handled them like a musi- 
cian. For the rest, in whatever he wrote of prose or verse he 
breathed the spirit of hope and energy. With a serene submission, 
he acknowledges himself "a servant of the Will," and, imafraid 
before "the menace of the years," gives thanks for his "imcon- 
querable soul." Such, briefly, is the simple gospel — ^a cheerful, 
sometimes defiant, acceptance of destiny's decrees — ^which he 
preaches with fervency and a constant heart, nowhere more elo- 
quently than in the poem "Out of the night that covers me," 
already become a classic of our speech. He showed his love of 
battle not only in his Song of the Sword, but in a constant readiness 
to fight for his beliefs and his ideals. In Pro Rege Nostro he 
sounded the note of patriotism as few have soimded it. And as he 
asked courage of others, so he showed a rare courage himself. He 



WILLIAM ERNEST HENLEY 501 

never permitted his infirmity to hamper his life, he never con- 
fessed even to his own ear that he was a sick man. In critidsm 
he combined "enthusiasm" with "wakeful judgment." So 
widely catholic was his taste, that he was ready to welcome and 
approvl the boldest experiment, and it will be remembered of him 
gladly that his hand was ever the hand of a helper. 

Charles Whibley. 



From "In Hospital" 

staff-nurse: old style 

The greater masters of the commonplace, 
Rembrandt and good Sir Walter — only these 
Could paint her all to you: experienced ease 
And antique liveliness and ponderous grace; 
The sweet old roses of her simken face; 
The depth and malice of her sly, grey eyes; 
The broad Scots tongue that flatters, scolds, defies, 
The thick Scots wit that fells you like a mace. 
These thirty years has she been nursing here, 
Some of them under Syme, her hero still. 
Much is she worth, and even more is made of her. 
Patients and students hold her very dear. 
The doctors love her, tease her, use her skill. 
They say "The Chief" himself is half-afraid of her. 



staff-nurse: new style 

Blue-eyed and bright of face, but waning fast 

Into the sere of virginal decay, 

I view her as she enters, day by day. 

As a sweet sunset almost overpast. 

Kindly and calm, patrician to the last, 

Superbly falls her gown of sober grey. 

And on her chignon's elegant array 

The plainest cap is somehow touched with caste. 

She talks Beethoven; frowns diapprobation 

At Balzac's name, sighs it at "poor George Sand's' 



S02 THE ENGLISH POETS 

Knows that she has exceeding pretty hands; 
Speaks Latin with a right accentuation; 
And gives at need (as one who understands) 
Draught, counsel, diagnosis, exhortation. 



LADY-PROBATIONER 

Some three, or five, or seven, and thirty years; 

A Roman nose; a dimpling double-chin; 

Dark eyes and shy that, ignorant of sin. 

Are yet acquainted, it would seem, with tears; 

A comely shape; a slim, high-coloured hand. 

Graced, rather oddly, with a signet ring; 

A bashful air, becoming everything; 

A well-bred silence always at command. 

Her plain print gown, prim cap, and bright steel chain 

Look out of place on her, and I remain 

Absorbed in her, as in a pleasant mystery. 

Quick, skilful, quiet, soft in speech and touch . . . 

"Do you like nursing?" "Yes, Sir, very much." 

Somehow, I rather think she has a history. 



THE CHIEF '■ 

His brow spreads large and placid, and his eye 

Is deep and bright, with steady looks that still. 

Soft lines of tranquil thought his face fulfill — 

His face at once benign and proud and shy. 

If envy scout, if ignorance deny, 

His faultless patience, his unyielding will, 

Beautiful gentleness and splendid skill, 

Innumerable gratitudes reply. 

His wise, rare smile is sweet with certainties, 

And seems in all his patients to compel 

Such love and faith as failure cannot quell. 

We hold him for another Herakles, 

Battling with custom, prejudice, disease. 

As once the son of Zeus with Death and Hell. 

* Sir Joseph Lister, the great surgeon. 



WILLIAM ERNEST HENLEY 503 



APPARITION 

Thin-legged, thin-chested, slight unspeakably, 

Neat-footed and weak-fingered: in his face — 

Lean, large-lk)ned, curved of beak, and touched with race, 

Bold-lipped, rich-tinted, mutable as the sea, 

The brown eyes radiant with vivacity — 

There shines a brilliant and romantic grace, 

A spirit intense and rare, with trace on trace 

Of passion and impudence and energy. 

Valiant in velvet, light in ragged luck, 

Most vain, most generous, sternly critical. 

Buffoon and poet, lover and sensualist: 

A deal of Ariel, just a streak of Puck, 

Much Antony, of Hamlet most of all. 

And something of the Shorter-Catechist. 



DISCHARGED 

Carry me out 

Into the wind and the sunshine. 

Into the beautiful world. 

O, the wonder, the spell of the streets! 
The stature and strength of the horses, 
The rustle and echo of footfalls. 
The flat roar and rattle of wheels! 
A swift tram floats huge on us . . . 
It's a dream? 

The smell of the mud in my nostrils 
Blows brave — ^like a breath of the sea! 

As of old, 

Ambulant, undulant drapery. 
Vaguely and strangely provocative. 
Flutters and beckons. O, yonder — 
Is it? — ^the gleam of a stocking! 



504 THE ENGLISH POETS 

Sudden, a spire 

Wedged in the mist! O, the houses, 

The long lines of lofty, grey houses, 

Cross-hatched with shadow and light! 

These are the streets. . . . 

Each is an avenue leading 

Whither I will! 

Free . . .! 

Dizzy, hysterical, faint, 

I sit, and the carriage rolls on with me 

Into the wonderful world. 

The Old Infirmaky, Eoinbxtrgh, 1873-75. 



I. M. 

R. T. Hamilton Bruce 
(1846-99) 

Out of the night that covers me. 
Black as the Pit from pole to pole, 

I thank whatever gods may be 
For my unconquerable soul. 

In the fell clutch of circmnstance 
I have not winced nor cried aloud. 

Under the bludgeonings of chance 
My head is bloody, but imbowed. 

Beyond this place of wrath and tears 
Looms but the Horror of the shade, 

And yet the menace of the years 
Finds, and shall find, me imafraid. 

It matters not how strait the gate. 

How charged with pimishments the scroll, 
,1 am the master of my fate: 
! I am the captain of my soul. 



WILLIAM ERNEST HENLEY 505 

To W. A. 

Or ever the knightly years were gone 

With the old world to the grave, 
I was a King in Babylon 

And you were a Christian Slave. 

I saw, I took, I cast you by, 

I bent and broke your pride. 
You loved me well, or I heard them lie. 

But your longing was denied. 
Surely I knew that by and by 

You cursed your gods and died. 

And a myriad sims have set and shone 

Since then upon the grave 
Decreed by the King in Babylon 

To her that had been his Slave. 

The pride I trampled is now my scathe, 

For it tramples me again. 
The old resentment lasts like death. 

For you love, yet you refrain. 
I break my heart on your hard imfaith. 

And I break my heart in vain. 

Yet not for an hour do I wish imdone 

The deed beyond the grave. 
When I was a King in Babylon 

And you were a Virgin Slave. 



To A. C. 

Not to the staring Day, 

For all the importimate questionings he pursues 
In his big, violent voice. 
Shall those mild things of bulk and multitude. 
The Trees — God's sentinels 
Over His gift of live, life-giving air- 
Yield of their huge, imutterable selves. 
Midsimimer-manifold, each one 
Voluminous, a labyrinth of life, 



5o6 THE ENGLISH POETS 

They keep their greenest musings, and the dim dreams 

That haimt their leafier privacies, 

Dissembled, baffling the random gapeseed still 

With blank full-faces, or the innocent guile 

Of laughter flickering back from shine to shade, 

And disappearances of homing birds. 

And frolicsome freaks 

Of little boughs that frisk with little boughs. 

But at the word 

Of the ancient, sacerdotal Night, 
Night of the many secrets, whose effect — 
Transfiguring, hierophantic, dread — 
Themselves alone may fully apprehend, 
They tremble and are changed. 
In each, the uncouth individual soul 
. Looms forth and glooms 
Essential, and, their bodily presences 
Touched with inordinate significance, 
Wearing the darkness like the livery 
Of some mysterious and trei^endous guild. 
They brood — they menace — they appal; 
Or the anguish of prophecy tears them, and they wring 
Wild hands of warning in the face 
Of some inevitable advance of doom; 
Or, each to the other bending, beckoning, signing 
As in some monstrous market-place. 
They pass the news, these Gossips of the Prime, 
In that old speech their forefathers 
Learned on the lawns of Eden, ere they heard 
The troubled voice of Eve 
Naming the wondering folk of Paradise. 

Your sense is sealed, or you should hear them tell 

The tale of their dim life, with all 

Its compost of experience: how the Sun 

Spreads them their daily feast, 

Simiptuous, of light, firing them as with wine; 

Of the old Moon's fitful solicitude 

And those mild messages the Stars 

Descend in silver silences and dews; 



WILUAM ERNEST HENLEY 507 

Or what the sweet-breathing West, 

Wanton with wading in the swirl of the wheat, 

Said, and their leafage laughed; 

And how the wet-winged Angel of the Rain 

Came whispering . . . whispering; and the gifts of the Year— 

The sting of the stirring sap 

Under the wizardry of the young-eyed Spring, 

Their summer amplitudes of pomp, 

Their rich autunmal melancholy, and the shrill, 

Embittered housewifery 

Of the lean Winter: all such things, 

And with them all the goodness of the Master, 

Whose right hand blesses with increase and life. 

Whose left hand honours with decay and death. 

Thus under the constraint of Night 

These gross and simple creatures. 

Each in his scores of rings, which rings are years, 

A servant of the Will! 

And God, the Craftsman, as He walks 

The floor of His workshop; hearkens, full of cheer 

In thus accomplishing 

The aims of His miraculous artistry. 



Pro Rege Nostro 

What have I done for you, 

England, my England? 
What is there I would not do^ 

England, my own? 
With your glorious eyes austere, 
As the Lord were walking near. 
Whispering terrible things and dear 

As the Song on your bugles blown, 
England — 

Roimd the world on your bugles blown I 

Where shall the watchful Sun, 

England, my England, 
Match the master-work you've done, 

England, my own? 



So8 THE ENGLISH POETS 

When shall he rejoice agen 
Such a breed of mighty men 
As come forward, one to ten, 

To the Song on your bugles blown, 
England — 

Down the years on your bugles blown? 

Ever the faith endures, 

England, my England: — 
"Take and break us: we are yours, 

"England, my own! 
"Life is good, and joy runs high 
"Between English earth and sky: 
"Death is death; but we shall die 

"To the Song on your bugles blown, 
"England— 

"To the stars on your bugles blown!" 

They call you proud and hard, 

England, my England: 
You with worlds to watch and ward, 

England, my own! 
You whose mailed hand keeps the keys 
Of such teeming destinies 
You could know nor dread nor ease 

Were the Song on your bugles blown, 
England — 

Round the Pit on your bugles blown! 

Mother of Ships whose might, 

England, my England, 
Is the fierce old Sea's delight, 

England, my own. 
Chosen daughter of the Lord, 
Spouse-in-Chief of the ancient Sword, 
There's the menace of the Word 

In the Song on your bugles blown, 
England — 

Out of heaven on your bugles blown' 



ANDREW LANG 

[BoKN at Selkirk, 1844. Educated at the Edinburgh Academy, at 
St. Andrews, and at Balliol College, Oxford, whence he obtained a first 
class in the Final Classical Schools and a Fellowship at Merton. Settled 
in London; married Leonora, youngest daughter of Mr. C. T. AUeyne 
of Clifton, and sister of Miss S. F. Alleyne, who was a'ssociated with 
Evelyn Abbott in translating Duncker's History of Greece and Zeller's 
History of Philosophy, About 1875, Lang began a long career as journal- 
ist and author, writing "light" leaders for the Daily News and "middles" 
for the Saturday Review, and producing a multiplicity of excellent books 
in verse and prose. Among the latter were several Homeric studies and 
translations, books on Scottish history, and others on Anthropology, 
including serious matters like the Origins of Religion and lighter depart- 
ments like Folk-lore and Fairy Tales. His poems began with BaUads 
and Lyrics of Old France (1872), and after a long interval went on to 
Ballades in Blue China, Grass of Parnassus, and many others. He died 
on July 20, 191 2, mourned by many friends and regretted by a multi- 
tude of readers.] 

Andrew Lang was not primarily a poet, but a writer to whom 
all subjects and many languages seemed to come by nature. He 
was equally at home in Homer's Greek, in old French romances, 
and in many phases of modem literature; at once a serious and 
sdentiiic disputant, a sound critic, a humorist, and both familiar 
with a score of other men's styles and master of a distinctive style 
of his own. Here we are only concerned with his verse, which one 
reads with all the greater pleasure because most of it is evidently 
the relaxation of a worker, almost too busy a worker, in other 
fields. A large nimiber of his poems are the direct outcome of his 
reading and of his prose labours; for example, the volume in which 
he introduced English readers to the almost forgotten ballads and 
lyrics in which early French literature abounds, the poems in 
which he recast thoughts suggested by Homer and Herodotus, 
such as the fine "Odyssey" sonnet, and those which he consecrated 
to the heroes of his own time, Gordon above all. Lang was no 
politician in the party sense; his leading articles had for the most 
part nothing to do with politics; but he had a profound belief in 



5IO THE ENGLISH POETS 

national duty, a profound regard for the national honour, and a 
positive horror of any political faltering or paltering where that 
honour was at stake. Certain of his poems give an almost fierce 
expression to that feeling, but the large majority are lighter in 
subject and in touch. They are the utterances of a man steeped 
in the best literature of all the ages, and at the same time de- 
lighted when he could express his healthy pleasure in nature and 
physical exercise — cricket, golf, fishing — ^and still more when he 
could play upon the fancies and the foibles of his time with that 
humorous touch that his readers still find so attractive and so 
inimitable. 

Editor. 

The Odyssey 

As one that for a weary space has lain 

Lulled by the song of Circe and her Wine 

In gardens near the pale of Proserpine, 
Where that Aegaean Isle forgets the main, 
And only the low lutes of love complain. 

And only shadows of wan lovers pine; 

As such an one were glad to know the brine 
Salt on his lips, and the large air again. 
So gladly, from the songs of modern speech 

Men turn, and see the stars, and feel the free 
Shrill wind beyond the close of heavy flowers 
And through the music of the languid hours, 
They hear like ocean on a Western beach 

The surge and thimder of the Odyssey. 



Herodotus in Egypt 

He left the land of youth, he left the young, 
The smiling gods of Greece; he passed the isle 

Where Jason loitered, and where Sappho simg; 
He sought the secret-founted wave of Nile, 
And of their old world, dead a weary while. 

Heard the priests murmur in their mystic tongue, 

And through the fanes went voyaging, among 
Dark tribes that worshipped Cat and Crocodile. 



ANDREW LANG 511 



He learned the tales of death Divine and birth, 
Strange loves of Hawk and Serpent, Sky and Earth, 

The marriage, and the slaying of the Sun. 
The shrines of gods and beasts he wandered through, 
And mocked not at their godhead, for he knew 

Behind all creeds the Spirit that is One. 

COLINETTE 
[For a Sketch by Mr. G. Leslie, R. A.] 

France your country, as we know; 

Room enough for guessing yet, 
What lips now or long ago. 

Kissed and named you^-Colinette. 
In what fields from sea to sea. 

By what stream your home was set, 
Loire or Seine was glad of thee, 

Mame or Rhone, O Colinette? 

Did you stand with maidens ten. 

Fairer maids were never seen, 
When the young king and his men 

Passed among the orchards green? 
Nay, old ballads have a note 

Mournful, we would fain forget; 
No such sad old air should float 

Roimd your young brows, Colinette. 

Say, did Ronsard sing to you. 

Shepherdess, to lull his pain, 
WTien the court went wandering through 

Rose pleasances of Touraine? 
Ronsard and his favourite Rose 

Long are dust the breezes fret; 
You, within the garden close, 

You are blooming, Colinette. 

Have I seen you proud and gay. 
With a patched and perfmned beau, 

Dancing through the siunmer day, 
Misty summer of Watteau? 



512 THE ENGLISH POETS 

Nay, so sweet a maid as you 

Never walked a minuet 
With the splendid courtly crew; 

Nay, forgive me, Colinette. 

Not from Greuze's canvases 

Do you cast a glance, a smile; 
You are not as one of these. 

Yours is beauty without guile. 
Round your maiden brows and hair 

Maidenhood and Childhood met 
Crown and kiss you, sweet and fair, 
. New art's blossom, Colinette. 

Pen and Ink ' 

Ye wanderers that were my sires, 

Who read men's fortunes in the hand. 
Who voyaged with your smithy fires 

From waste to waste across the land. 
Why did you leave for garth and town 

Your life by heath and river's brink, 
Why lay your gipsy freedom down 

^d doom your child to Pen and Ink? 

You wearied of the wild-wood meal 

That crowned, or failed to crown, the day; 
Too honest or too tame to steal 

You broke into the beaten way: 
Plied loom or awl like other men. 

And learned to love the guineas' chink — 
Oh, recreant sires, who doomed me then 

To earn so few — ^with Pen and Ink! 

Where it hath fallen the tree must lie; 

'Tis over late for me to roam, 
Yet the caged bird who hears the cry 

Of his wild fellows fleeting home 
May feel no sharper pang than mine, 

Who seem to hear, whene'er I think, 
Spate in the stream, and wind in pine. 

Call me to quit dull Pen and Ink. 

» Reprkted by permission of the publishers, Charles Scribncr's Sons, fxom ** Ptti 
and Ink." CopyriKht. 1888, 190a, by Brandcr Matthews. 



ANDREW LANG 513 



For then the spirit wandering, 

That slept within the blood, awakes; 
For then the summer and the spring 

I fain would meet by streams and lakes; 
But ah! my birthright long is sold, 

But custom chains me, link on link, 
And I must get me, as of old, 

Back to my tools, to Pen and Ink. 



The White Pacha 

Vain is the dream! However Hope may rave, 
He perished with the folk he could not save, 
And though none surely told us he is dead, 
And though perchance another in his stead. 
Another, not less brave, when all was done, 
Had fled unto the southward and the sun, 
Had urged a way by force, or won by guile 
To streams remotest of the secret Nile, 
Had raised an army of the Desert men, 
And, waiting for his hour, had turned again 
And fallen on that False Prophet, yet we know 
GoKDON is dead,. and these things are not so! 
Nay, not for England's cause, nor to restore 
Her trampled flag — for he loved Honour more — 
Nay, not for Life, Revenge, or Victory, 
Would he have fled, whose hour had dawned to die. 
He will not come again, whatever our need. 
He will not come, who is happy, being freed 
From the deathly flesh and perishable things. 
And lies of statesmen and rewards of kings. 
Nay, somewhere by the sacred River's shore 
He sleeps like those who shall return no more, 
No more return for all the prayers of men — 
Arthur and Charles — they never come again! 
They shall not wake, though fair the vision seem: 
Whatever sick hope may whisper, vain the dream I 



514 THE ENGLISH POETS 

Advance, Australia 

On the offer of help from the Australians after the fall of Khartoum 

Sons of the giant Ocean isle 

In sport our friendly foes for long, 
Well England loves you, and we smile, 
When you outmarch us many a while, 
So fleet you are, so keen and strong. 

You, like that fairy people set 

Of old in their enchanted sea 
Far off from men, might well forget 
An elder nation's toil and fret. 

Might heed not aught but game and glee. 

But what your fathers were you are 

In lands the fathers never knew, 
'Neath skies of alien sign and star 
You rally to the English war; 

Your hearts are English, kind and true. 

And now, when first on England falls 

The shadow of a darkening fate, 
You hear the Mother ere she calls. 
You leave your ocean-girdled walls. 

And face her foemen in the gate. 



Ballade of the Book-hunter 

In torrid heats of late July, 

In March, beneath the bitter hise, 

He book-hunts while the loungers fly, — 

He book-hunts, though December freeze; 

In breeches baggy at the knees. 

And heedless of the public jeers. 

For these, for these, he hoards his fees, — 

Aldines, Bodonis, Elzevirs. 



ANDREW LANG 515 



No dismal stall escapes the eye, 
He turns o'er tomes of low degrees, 
There soiled romanticists may lie. 
Or Restoration comedies; 
Each tract that flutters in the breeze 
For him is charged with hopes and fears, 
In mouldy- novels fancy sees 
Aldines, Bodonis, Elzevirs. 

With restless eyes that peer and spy. 

Sad eyes that heed not skies or trees, 

In dismal nooks he loves to pry, 

Whose motto evermore is SpesI 

But ah! the fabled treasure flees; 

Grown rarer with the fleeting years, 

In rich men's shelves they take their ease, — 

Aldines, Bodonis, Elzevirs! 

ENVOY 

Prince, all the things that tease and please, — 
Fame, hope, wealth, kisses, cheers and tears. 
What are they but such toys as these — 
Aldines, Bodonis, Elzevirs? 



The Old Love and the New 

How oft I've watched her footstep glide 

Across the enamelled plain. 
And deemed she was the fairest bride 

And I the fondest swain! 
How oft with her I've cast me down 

Beneath the odorous limes. 
How often twined her daisy crown, 

In the glad careless times! 

By that old wicket ne'er we meet 

Where still we met of yore, 
But I have found another sweet 

Beside the salt sea-shore: 



Sl6 THE ENGUSH POETS 

With sea-daisies her locks I wreathe, 

With sea-grass bind her hands, 
And salt and sharp's the air we breathe 

Beside the long sea-sands! 

Mine old true love had eyes of blue, 

And WiUawI was her song; 
Sea-green her eyes, my lady new, 

And of the East her tongue. 
And she that's worsted in the strife, 

A southland lass is she; 
But she that's won — ^the Neuk o* Fife, 

It is her ain countrie! 

No more the old sweet words we call, 

These kindly words of yore, — 
"Over!" "Hardin!" "Leg-bye!" "NobaU!" 

Ah now we say "Two more;" 
And of the "Like" and "Odd" we shout, 

Till swains and maidens scoff; 
"The fact is, Cricket's been bowled out 

By that eternal Golf!" 



The Last Chance 

Within the streams, Pausanias saith. 

That down Coc3rtus valley flow, 
Girding the grey domain of Death, 

The spectral fishes come and go; 
The ghosts of trout flit to and fro. 

Persephone, fulfil my wish, 
And grant that in the shades below 

My ghost may land the ghosts of fish. 



HUMOROUS VERSE 

By C. L. Graves 

The world is supposed to grow more serious if not sadder with 
its increasing burden of years, but certainly England in the nine- 
teenth century showed considerable skill in dissembling its sad- 
ness in song. No century has been richer in verse written in a 
mood of conscious levity. It began joyously with the Rejected 
Addresses, with the Antir Jacobin, with the brilliant fooling of 
Hook, Barham's ingenious medley of the comic and the macabre, 
and the patrician grace and gaiety of Praed. Though light verse 
became sentimental in the Keepsake period, the torch was never 
dropped, but was handed on from Lamb to Hood, from Praed to 
Locker, and, in the domain of the new parody, from the brothers 
Smith to Martin and Aytoun, and from them to Calverley. As 
for occasional verse, Frederick Locker laid down the rules of the 
game as he conceived it should be played, and as he certainly 
played it, in words which cannot be bettered: — 

"Occasional verse should be short, graceful, refined, and fanciful, not 
seldom distinguished by chastened sentiment, and often playful. The 
tone should not be pitched high; it should be terse and idiomatic, and 
rather in the conversational key; the rhythm should be crisp and spark- 
ling, and the rhyme frequent and never forced, while the entire poem 
should be marked by tasteful moderation, high finish and completeness; 
for, however trivial the subject-matter may be, indeed, rather in pro- 
portion to its triviality, subordination to the rules of composition, and 
perfection of execution, are of the utmost importance." 

But a great deal of the best light or humorous poetry written 
in the last half of the nineteenth century stands outside Locker's 
definition of occasional verse. Praed's influence was very con- 
siderable. He had many imitators, and to this day there are very 
few writers of light verse who at one time or another have not 
made him their model. It has, however, been almost always a 
mere passing phase of disciple^ip. Locker himself was almost 



5i8 THE ENGLISH POETS 

the last of bis successful followers. Vers de sociki have been 
dethroned from the exalted position they once held in the do- 
main of light verse, and parody has long been raised from crude 
verbal mimicry to a high art and an instrument of literary criticism. 
The successors of Canning, the Smiths, and Bon Gaultier have 
maintained and improved on the high level of achievement reached 
in this branch, and it is impossible to render justice to modem 
humorous verse without taking parody into special account. 
Indeed, the work of the best living parodists goes a long way to 
justify the contention of one of their number — ^that the finest 
parody is based not on derision but on admiration, on the principle 
that "faithful are the wounds of a friend." But the borders of 
this domain were enlarged in other ways. Scholarship was allied 
to high spirits and irresponsibility, and the charm of exhilarating 
nonsense appealed to readers of all ages. 

Apart from the contributions of light-hearted scholars, artistic 
parodists, and writers of romantic nonsense, there remains the 
^here of comic topical verse, burlesque, and extravaganza. Here, 
too, it may be fairly contended that in the period under review 
the example of Barham and Hook has been bettered by their 
followers, certainly in respect of techm'que. Hood in his own line 
remains unsurpassed: we can point to no sustained humorous or 
satirical narrative equal to Miss KUmansegg. But in W. S. Gil- 
bert we had a writer who achieved for burlesque what Calverley 
did for parody, who had a wider appeal than any other composer 
of light verse in his day, and who by his wit and technical ciex- 
terity raised the literary quality of the libretti of comic opera to a 
level never reached before. 



W. M. THACKERAY 519 



(i) W. M. THACKERAY 

[William Makepeace Thackeray was born at Calcutta in 1811. 
Educated at Charterhouse and Cambridge, he studied art, travelled a 
good deal on the Continent, and contributed freely in prose and verse 
to various journals before achieving fame as a novelist. His great 
works — Vanity Faify Esmond ^ The Virginians, Pendmnis, and The 
Newcomes — ^were all written between 1848 and i860. He died in 1864.] 

Thackeray's greatness rests on his novels, but his excursions in 
metre, though they represent a small portion of his literary bag- 
gage, run into thousands of lines and fill nearly three hundred 
pages of one of the miscellaneous volumes of his collected works. 
His connexion with Punch began in 1842 and established his fame 
as a humorist. Most of his contributions were in prose, but he 
wrote a good deal of excellent satirical and topical verse for Punch, 
including the Bow Street Ballads (1848) and the Battle of Limerick 
in the same year. Many of his best poems, however, are to be 
found scattered through his various prose writings, for he followed 
the example of Scott in using verse in his novels, stories, and 
sketches, in the form of decoration or interlude. Humour is the 
prevailing note; sometimes grim, as in the Chronicle of the Drum, 
the best of his ballads, but more often satirical and caustic; some- 
times extravagant, as in the Lyra Hibernica. Charlotte might 
have been written by Canning. Peg of Limavaddy recalls Father 
Prout, and some of his pieces are frankly derivative, such as the 
spirited paraphrases of B^ranger, Ronsard, Uhland, Chamisso, 
and Horace. He excelled also in lers de society and occasional 
poems with an undercurrent of seriousness or irony; indeed, there 
are few branches of light verse that he did not adorn save that of 
parody. Some of his topical verse hardly rose above the level of 
first-class journalism, and the "Jeames" and "Pleeceman X" 
ballads have lost their savour from the virtual extinction of the 
types depicted and dialect employed. But enough remains, 
apart from the general fame of the writer, to ensure him a dis- 
tinguished position among Victorian writers of light verse. 

From "Vanitas Vanitatum" 
O Vanity of vanities! 

How wayward the decrees of Fate are; 
How very weak the very wise. 

How very small the very great are I 



S20 THE ENGUSH POETS 

What mean these stale moralities, 
Sir Preacher, from your desk you mumble? 

Why rail against the great and wise. 
And tire us with your ceaseless grumble? 

Pray choose us out another text, 
O man morose and narrow-minded I 

Come turn the page — ^I read the next, 
And then the next, and still I find it. 

Read here how Wealth aside was thrust, 
And Folly set in place exalted; 

How Princes footed in the dust, 
While lacquey in the saddle vaulted. 

Though thrice a thousand years are past 
Since David's son, the sad and splendid, 

The weary King Ecclesiast, 
Upon his awful tablets penned it, — 

Methinks the text is never stale. 
And life is every day renewing 

Fresh comments on the old old tale 
Of Folly, Fortune, Glory, Ruin. 

Hark to the Preacher, preaching still! 

He lifts his voice and crieis his sermon, 
Here at St. Peter's of Comhill, • 

As yonder on the Mount of Hermon; 

For you and me to heart to take 
(O dear beloved brother readers) 

To-day, as when the good King spake 
Beneath the solemn Syrian cedars. 



The Age of Wisdom 
[From Rebecca and Rowena] 

Ho! pretty page, with dimpled chin, 
That never has known the barber's shear, 

All your aim is woman to win. 

This is the way that boys begin. 
Wait till you've come to forty yearl 



W, M. THACKERAY 521 



Curly gold locks cover foolish brains, 
Billing and cooing is all your cheer, 
Sighing and singing of midnight strains 
Under Bonnybell's window-panes. 
Wait till youVe come to forty year I 

Forty times over let Michaelmas pass, 
Grizzling hair the brain doth clear; 
Then you know a boy is an ass, 
Then you know the worth of a lass, 
Once you have come to forty year. 

Pledge me round, I bid ye declare, 

All good fellows whose beards are grey; 
Did not the fairest of the fair 
Conmion grow and wearisome, ere 
Ever a month was past away? 

The reddest lips that ever have kissed. 

The brightest eyes that ever have shone, 
May pray and whisper and we not list, 
Or look away and never be missed, 
Ere yet ever a month was gone. 

Gillian's dead. Heaven rest her bier, 
How I loved her twenty years syne! 

Marian's married, but I sit here, 

Alive and merry at forty year. 
Dipping my nose in the Gascon wine. 



Sorrows of Werther 

Werther had a love for Charlotte 
Such as words could never utter; 

Would you know how first he met her? 
She was cutting bread and butter. 

Charlotte was a married lady. 
And a moral man was Werther, 

And, for all the wealth of Indies, 
Would do nothing for to hurt her. 



522 THE ENGLISH POETS 

So he sighed and pined and ogled, 
And his passion boiled and bubbled, 

Till he blew his silly brains out, 
And no more was by it troubled. 

Charlotte, having seen his body 
Borne before her on a shutter, 

Like a well-conducted person. 
Went on cutting bread and butter. 



(2) FREDERICK LOCKER 

[Frederick Locker, who in 1885 added his wife's name of Lampson 
to that of Locker, was bom in 1821 in Greenwich Hospital, of which his 
father was then Commissioner. He was successively a clerk in Somerset 
House and the Admiralty, but retired from the public service in 1850. 
London Lyrics, his only book of original poems, appeared in 1857, and 
ten editions were issued in his lifetime. Lyra Elegantiarum, an anthol- 
ogy of light verse, was published in 1867, Patchwork in 1879, the cata- 
logue of his "Rowfant Library" in 1886, and his autobiography. My 
Confidences, posthumously in 1896. He died at Rowfant, in Sussex, 
in 1895.] 

Thackeray, -as we have seen, was a singer of many moods. 
Frederick Locker, like Praed, whom he greatly admired and often 
imitated, was pre-eminently a writer of vers de socUU, and he is 
of importance in this context not only as a composer of many 
fascinating poems, but as an anthologist (in his Lyra Elegan- 
tiarum) and critic. He mingled in the world of fashion, and he 
knew almost everybody worth knowing in the world of letters. 
Thackeray invited him to contribute to the Cornkill, and he was 
an intimate friend of Tennyson. He was a man of fastidious and 
exquisite taste; he had humour, irony, and tenderness, but he 
lacked animal spirits, and, though generous in his appreciation 
of others — witness his enthusiastic praise of H. S. Leigh and of 
W. S. Gilbert as far back as 1870 — ^was a relentless critic of his 
own work. His London Lyrics, as originally published in 1857, 
contained only twenty-six short pieces, but in the ten editions 
which appeared between that year and 1893 many new poems 
were added, and many of the older ones withdrawn or revised. 
But the revision was invariably an improvement; the Cockney 



FREDERICK LOCKER 523 

rhymes and puns disappeared, redundancies were excised, and 
the whole gained in terseness, simplicity, and point. In subject- 
matter he largely resembled Praed, and he tells us that at one 
time he tried to write like him; but his Praedian poems are the 
least successful — ^faint but graceful echoes of the brilliant antithet- 
ical rhetoric of his model. Locker had not gusto, the quality he 
admired in Suckling; his mood was in his own phrase "rueful- 
sweet," a mood at once whimsical and elegiac. He eschewed 
parody, but showed remarkable skill in his adaptation from the 
French, and in his handling of short metres, modelled probably 
on the seventeenth-century Ijnists. A few trite Latin tags appear 
in his verses; but, imlike Calverley, he deals sparingly in literary 
allusions; he was neither a Latinist nor a Grecian, but he had a 
"naturally classical" mind, fortified by the study of the best 
English poetry and modern literature, and was eminently a schol- 
arly poet though he made no parade of his learning. He was, in 
fine, a most accomplished miniaturist; the Cosway of Victorian 
light-verse writers. 



My Mistress's Boots 

She has dancing eyes and ruby lipsy 
Ddighiful boots — and away she skips. 

They nearly strike me dumb, — 
I tremble when they come 

Pit-a-pat: 
This palpitation means 
These Boots are Geraldine's — 

Think of that! 

O, where did hunter win 
So delicate a skin 

For her feet? 
You lucky little kid, 
You perished, so you did. 

For my Sweet. 

The faery stitching gleams 
On the sides, and in the seams. 
And reveals 



524 THE ENGUSH POETS 

That the Pixies were the wags 
Who tipt these funny tags, 
And these heels. 

What soles to chann an elf I — 
Had Crusoe, sick of self, 

Chanced to view 
One printed near the tide, 
O, how hard he would have tried 

For the two I 

For Gerry's debonair. 
And innocent and fair 

As a rose; 
She's an Angel in a frock, — 
She's an Angel with a clock 

To her hose I 

The simpletons who squeeze 
Their pretty toes to please 

Mandarins, 
Would positively flinch 
From venturing to pinch 

Geraldine'sl 

Cinderella's lefts and rights 
To Geraldine's were frights: 

And I trow 
The Damsel, deftly shod. 
Has dutifully trod 

Until now. 

Come, Gerry, since it suits 
Such a pretty Puss (in Boots) 

These to don. 
Set your dainty hand awhile 
On my shoulder. Dear, and I'll 

Put them on. 

Albury, June 29, 1864. 



FREDERICK LOCKER 525 

The Rose and the Ring 

She smiles, but her heart is in sable, 

Ay, sad as her Christmas is chill; 
She reads, and her book is the Fable 

He penned for her while she was ill. 
It is nine years ago since he wrought it, 

Where reedy old Tiber is king; 
And chapter by chapter he brought it, — 

He read her The Rose and the Ring. 

And when it was printed, and gaining 

Renown with all lovers of glee, 
He sent her this copy containing 

His comical little croquis; 
A sketch of a rather droll couple. 

She's pretty, he's quite t'other thing! 
He begs (with a spine vastly supple) 

She will study The Rose and the Ring, 

It pleased the kind Wizard to send her 

The last and the best of his Toys; 
He aye had a sentiment tender 

For innocent maidens and boys: 
And though he was great as a scomer, 

The guileless were safe from his sting: 
How sad is past mirth to the mourner — 

A tear on The Rose and the Ring, 

She reads; I may vainly endeavour 

Her mirth-chequer'd grief to pursue; 
For she knows she has lost, and for ever, 

The Heart that was bared to so few; 
But here, on the shrine of his glory, 

One poor little blossom I fling; — 
And you see there's a nice Httle story 

Attach'd to The Rose and the Ring,^ 

* When writing The Rose and the Ring at Rome Thackeray used to go 
and read it to a little friend (the daughter of Story, the American sculptor) 
who was then lying ill. 



S26 THE ENGLISH POETS 



A Reminiscence of Infancy 

I recollect a nurse called Ann, 
Who carried me about the grass, 

And one fine day a fine young man 
Came up, and kiss'd the pretty Lass: 

She did not make the least objection! 
Thinks I, "Aha! 

When I can talk I'll tell Mamma." 

— ^And that's my earliest recollection. 



(3) C. S. CALVERLEY 

[Charles Stuart Calverley — the family had borne the name of 
Blayds since the beginning of the century, but resumed their old name 
of Calverley when C. S. C. was one-and-twenty — was bom in 1831. 
From Harrow he went with a scholarship to Balliol, and won the Uni- 
versity Prize for a Latin poem; but subsequently migrated to Christ's 
College, Cambridge, took a high place in the Classical Tripos, and was 
elected Fellow of his College. His published works consist of Verses and 
Translations, Fly Leaves, and two voliunes of translations. He was 
called to the Bar, but while still a young man was incapacitated by a 
severe skating accident from pursuing his career or engaging in literary 
work. He died in 1884.] 

Of the three "beloved Cambridge Rhymers" — Calverley, J. K. 
Stephen, and A. C. Hilton — ^who adorned and enlivened English 
heUes lettres by their wit and hiunour in the last half of the nine- 
teenth century, Calverley stood first in time, in equipment, and 
in achievement. We have the testimony of Dr. Butler, who sat 
next him in the Sixth at Harrow, and of Sir John Seeley, who 
lived with him on terms of unbroken intimacy at Cambridge, that 
as a young man he was not widely read and that his stock of ac- 
quired knowledge was small. But he seemed to "know without 
reading;" he had a wonderful memory, a singularly catholic taste, 
and an "exquisite and severe appreciation of classical form and 
rhythm." His favourite studies at Harrow were Pickwick and 
Virgil. But while his knowledge of Dickens was extensive and 
peculiar, he was equally devoted to Thackeray, who, according to 



C. S. CALVERLEY 527 



Seeley, was his favourite English author. In style, he was most 
influenced by Virgil, and probably Milton; but his audacity was 
always restrained by a perfect taste, and he thus presented the 
engaging spectacle of a humorist who divorced scholarship from 
pedantry and combined reverence for form — and good form — ^with 
complete unconventionality of outlook. He owed little to his 
forerunners in the genre in which he became famous, but there are 
many lines in Canning which foreshadow Calverley's peculiar 
genius for sudden absurdity, notably the couplet: 

"The feathered tribe with pinions cleave the air; 
Not so the mackerel, and still less the bear." 

Calverley's fondness for unexpected effects had a physical parallel 
in his passion as a boy and a young man for taking extraordinary 
jumps, especially if he did not know where he would alight on the 
other side of the obstacle. On one memorable occasion, recorded 
by Dr. Butler, he lit on his head, but was none the worse — ^and one 
may say the same of most of the violent transitions in his verses. 
At any rate no one suffered but himself. The perfect good temper 
that endeared him to his friends never failed him in his most 
critical moods. If, as it has been said of him, he shows more intel- 
lectual affinity to the auther of The Rape of the Lock than to the 
author of The Excursion^ he was entirely free from the spiteful 
venom of Pope. His mockery was never disfigured by malice. He 
made no enemies even among those of the genus irritabUe whom 
he ridiculed for their morbibity, their obscurity, or their senti- 
mentality. His function was that of a caricaturist rather than 
that of a satirist, but it was backed by soimd criticism and conmaon 
sense. Sir John Seeley tells us that "to him all people were curi- 
ous and ridiculous," but they were never contemptible. 

Of vers de socUU in the strict sense there is little in the work of 
Calverley. He was not unsocial, but his Muse had little traffic 
with Mayfair; he was not a follower of Praed or a rival of Locker. 
But though his unsophisticated intellect could not put up with 
rules or "the pretty Decalogue of Mode," he was, in spite of a 
brief period of acute conflict with authority at Oxford, neither a 
Bohemian nor a rebel. As one of his most intimate friends says, 
"he entered into and enjoyed much of what he ridiculed." He 
had great gifts but no ambition. "It was his love to saunter along 
the high road of life," an amused onlooker of the follies of mortals, 
but with a deep reverence, at the back of all his freakishness for 



528 THE ENGUSH POETS 

all that was honest and lovely and of good report. This underlying 
seriousness sometimes emerges in his verse, notably in the beauti- 
ful concluding stanzas of Dover to Munich, and it is worthy of note 
that those who knew him best were men of serious aims and high 
ideals who loved the man even more than they admired his gifts. 
The secret of his charm is hard to define. The element of surprise 
was seldom lacking, and surprise is of the essence of recreation. 
Again, in the words of the Latin epitaph, neminem tristem fecit. 
He had the joyous intrepidity and the reckless gaiety of boyhood 
along with the ripe and curious felicity of the trained scholar, the 
dashing ease of the brilliant amateur, and the calculated elegance 
of the fastidious artist. These qualities have earned for him an 
enduring place among writers of humorous verse, apart from the 
special service which he rendered in the domain of parody. What 
Jeffrey said, in his review of Rejected Addresses, of the higher 
functions of literary travesty as revealed by the brothers Smith, 
applies with even greater force to Calverley. His essays in this 
genre were few in number but of supreme excellence, for they not 
only showed an unerring instinct for pillorying mannerisms, but 
an extraordinary gift of impersonation — of assuming 1;he mental 
habit of the writer. With him parody ceased to be a crude me- 
chanical exercise in verbal substitution, and became a legitimate 
weapon of criticism, as it has remained ever since in the hands of 
its best exponents. 

Gemini and Virgo 

Some vast amount of years ago. 
Ere all my youth had vanished from me, 

A boy it was my lot to know. 
Whom his familiar friends called Tonrniy. 

I love to gaze upon a child; 

A young bud bursting into blossom; 
Artless, as Eve yet unbeguiled, 

And agile as a young opossimi: 

And such was he. A calm-brow'd lad, 

Yet mad, at moments, as a hatter: 
Why hatters as a race are mad 

I never knew, nor does it matter. 



C. 5. CAVERLEY 529 



He was what nurses call a "limb"; 

One of those small misguided creatures, 
Who, tho* their intellects are dim, 

Are one too many for their teachers. 

And, if you asked of him to say 

What twice 10 was, or 3 times 7, 
He'd glance (in quite a placid way) 

From heaven to earth, from earth to heaven; 

And smile, and look politely round. 

To catch a casual suggestion; 
But make no effort to propound 

Any solution of the question. 

And so not much esteemed was he 

Of the authorities: and therefore 
He fraternized by chance with me, 

Needing a somebody to care for: 

And three fair summers did we twain 
Live (as they say) and love together; 

And bore by turns the wholesome cane 
Till our young skins became as leather: 

And carved our names on every desk, 
And tore our clothes, and inked our collars; 

And looked imique and picturesque. 
But not, it may be, model scholars. 

We did much as we chose to do; 

We'd never heard of Mrs. Grundy; 
All the theology we knew 

Was that we mightn't play on Sunday; 

And all the general truths, that cakes 
Were to be bought at four a penny. 

And that excruciating aches 
Resulted if we ate too many; 



S30 THE ENGLISH POETS 

And seeing ignorance is bliss, 
And wisdom consequently folly, 

The obvious result is this — 
That our two lives were very jolly. 

At last the separation came. 

Real love, at that time, was the fashion; 
And by a horrid chance, the same 

Young thing was, to us both, a passion. 

Old Poser snorted like a horse: 
His feet were large, his hands were pimply, 

His manner, when excited, coarse: — 
But Miss P. was an angel simply. 

She was a blushing gushing thing; 

All — ^more than all — ^my fancy painted; 
Once — ^when she helped me to a wing 

Of goose — ^I thought I should have fainted. 

The people said that she was blue: 
But I was green, and loved her dearly. 

She was approaching thirty-two; 
And I was then eleven, nearly. 

I did not love as others do; 

(None ever did that I've heard tell of;) 
My passion was a byword through 

The town she was, of course, the belle of. 

Oh sweet — ^as to the toilwom man 
The far-o£f sound of rippling river; 

As to cadets in Hindostan 
The fleeting remnant of their liver — 

To me was Anna; dear as gold 
That fills the miser's simless coffers; 

As to the spinster, growing old, 

The thought— the dream— that she had offers. 



C. S, CALVERLEY 531 



I'd sent her little gifts of fruit; . 

Vd written lines to her as Venus; 
Vd sworn unflinchingly to shoot 

The man who dared to come between us: 

And it was you, my Thomas, you, 
The friend in whom my soul confided, 

Who dared to gaze on her — to do, 
I may say, much the same as I did. 

One night, I saw him squeeze her hand; 

There was no doubt about the matter; 
I said he must resign, or stand 

My vengeance — ^and he chose the latter. 

We met, we "planted" blows on blows: 
We fought as long as we were able: 

My rival had a bottle-nose, 
And both my speaking eyes were sable. 

When the school-bell cut short our strife, 
Miss P. gave both of us a plaster; 

And in a week became the wife 
Of Horace Nibbs, the writing-master. 



I loved her then — I'd love her still. 
Only one must not love Another's: 

But thou and I, my Tommy, will. 
When we again meet, meet as brothers. 

It may be that in age one seeks 
Peace only: that the blood is brisker 

In boys' veins, than in theirs whose cheeks 
Are partially obscured by whisker; 

Or that the growing ages steal 
The memories of past wrongs from us. 

But this is certain — that I feel 
Most friendly imto thee, oh Thomas! 



532 TBE ENGLISH POETS 

And whereso'er we meet again, 
On this or that side the Equator, 

If I've not turned teetotaller then, 
And have wherewith to pay the waiter, 

To thee 1*11 drain the modest cup. 
Ignite with thee the mild Havannah; 

And we will waft, while liquoring up, 
Forgiveness to the heartless Anna. 



Wanderers 

As o*er the hill we roam'd at will, 

My dog and I together, 
We mark'd a chaise, by two bright bajrs 

Slow-moved along the heather: 

Two bajrs arch necked, with tails erect 
And gold upon their blinkers; 

And by their side an ass I spied; 
It was a travelling tinker's. 

The chaise went by, nor aught cared I; 

Such things are not in my way: 
I tum'd me to the tinker, who 

Was loafing down a by-way: 

I ask'd him where he lived — a stare 

Was all I got in answer, 
As on he trudged: I rightly judged 

The stare said, "Where I can, sir." 

I ask'd him if he'd take a whiff 

Of 'bacco; he acceded; 
He grew communicative too, 

(A pipe was all he needed,) 
Till of the tinker's life, I think, 

I knew as much as he did. 



C. S. CALVERLEY 533 



"I loiter down by thoip and town; 

For any job I*m willing; 
Take here and there a dusty brown, 

And here and there a shilling. 

"I deal in every ware in turn, 
I've rings for buddin' Sally- 
That sparkle like those eyes of her'n; 
I've liquor for the valet. 

"I steal from th' parson's strawberry-plots, 

I hide by th' squire's covers; 
I teach the sweet young housemaids what's 

The art of trapping lovers. 

"The things I've done 'neath moon and stars 

Have got me into messes: 
I've seen the sky through prison bars, 

I've torn up prison dresses: 

"I've sat, I've sigh'd, I've gloom'd, I've glanced 

With envy at the swallows 
That through the window slid, and danced 

(Quite happy) round the gallows; 

"But out again I come, and show 

My face nor care a stiver, 
For trades are brisk and trades are slow. 

But mine goes on for ever." 

Thus on he prattled like a babbling brook. 
Then I, "The sun hath slipt behind the hill, 
And my aunt Vivian dines at half-past six." 
So in all love we parted; I to the Hall, 
They to the village. It was noised next noon 
That chickens had been miss'd at Syllabub Farm. 



534 THE ENGLISH POETS 

(4) J. K. STEPHEN 

[James Kenneth Stephen, the second son of Sir James Fitzjaxnes 
Stephen, the Judge, was bom in 1859 ^^^ educated at Eton and King's 
College, Cambridge, where he was elected a Fellow. His only published 
works were two small volumes of verse, Lapsiis Calami and Quo Musa 
Tendis? (1891). He died in 1892, the ultimate cause of death being an 
accidental blow on the head some five years before.] 

The resemblances between Calverley and "J. K. S." (James 
Kenneth Stephen) are so marked as to warrant a slight deviation 
from chronological order. Stephen was also a brilliant public 
school boy who had a distinguished academic career at Cam- 
bridge. He was, moreover, an avowed disciple and devoted 
admirer of Calverley, as may be gathered from the delightful 
stanzas To C. 5. C. But though related by education and envi- 
ronment, the two men differed widely in temperament. Calverley 
was more freakish and irresponsible: he had greater charm, elas- 
ticity, and geniality. He was never angry, and Stephen often 
was, though to excellent purpose, in his diatribes against those 
who desecrated the river, vulgar Cockney or oversea tourists, and 
pretentious politicians. Stephen was less of the amused onlooker, 
more of the castigator. But he, too, trod the beaten way: he was 
neither a mystic nor a metaphysician, but a man of robust intelli- 
gence who hated cant, pretence, and sentimentality, but was 
capable of generous emotion and even tenderness. He called 
himself "a man of prose," but there are lines in the stanzas To 
A, H. C, when he compares the futility of abstract spectdation 
with the things that really count, which only a poet could have 
written; while as a parodist he fell little short of his master. 

A Parodist's Apology 

If IVe dared to laugh at you, Robert Browning, 
'Tis with eyes that with you have often wept: 

You have oftener left me smiling or frowning, 
Than any beside, one bard except. 

But once you spoke to me, storm-tongued poet, 

A trivial word in an idle hour; 
But thrice I looked on your face and the glow it 

Bore from the flame of the inward power. 



/. K. STEPHEN S35 



But you*d many a friend you never knew of, 

Your words lie hid in a hundred hearts, 
And thousands of hands that you've grasped but few of 

Would be raised to shield you from slander's darts. 

For you lived in the sight of the land that owned you, 

You faced the trial, and stood the test: 
They have piled you a cairn that would fain have stoned you: 

You have spoken your message and earned your rest. 



Parker's Piece, May 19, 1891 

To see good Tennis/ what diviner joy 

Can fill our leisure, or our minds employ? 

Not Sylvia's self is more supremely fair, 

Than balls that hurtle through the conscious air. 

Not Stella's form instinct with truer grace 

Than Lambert's racket poised to win the chase. 

Not Chloe's harp more native to the ear. 

Than the tense strings which smite the flying sphere. 

When Lambert boasts the superhuman /orce, 
Or splits the echoing grille without remorse: 
When HarradinCj as graceful as of yore, 
Wins better than a yard, upon the floor; 
When Alfred's ringing cheer proclaims success. 
Or Saunders volleys in resistlessness; 
When Heathcote's service makes the dedans ring 
With just applause, and own its honoured king; 
When Pettitt's prowess all our zeal awoke 
Till high Olympus shuddered at the stroke; 
Or, when, receiving thirty and the floor , 
The novice serves a doztn faults or more; 
Or some plump don, perspiring and profane. 
Assails the roof and breaks the exalted pane; 
When vantage^ five games ally the door is called. 
And Europe pauses, breathless and appalled. 
Till lo! the ball by cunning hand caressed 
Finds in the winning gallery a nest; 
These are the moments, this the bliss supreme. 
Which makes the artist's joy, the poet's dream. 



536 THE ENGUSH POETS 

Let crickeiers await the tardy sun, 
Break one another's shins and call it fun; 
Let Scotia* s golfers through the affrighted land 
With crooked knee and glaring eye-ball stand; 
Let football rowdies show their straining thews, 
And tell their triumphs to a mud-stained Muse; 
Let india-rubber pellets dance on grass 
Where female arts the ruder sex surpass; 
Let other people play at other things; 
The king of games is still the game of kings. 



is) A. C. HILTON 

[Arthur Clement Hilton was bom at Banbury in 1851, and edu- 
cated at Marlborough College and St. John's College, Cambridge. The 
Light Greeny a burlesque magazine for which he was chiefly responsible, 
appeared at Cambridge in 1872. Ordained in 1874, he became curate 
at Sandwich, where he died in 1877.] 

The three Cambridge poets all died young, Calverley at fifty- 
three, J. K. Stephen at thirty-three, and Arthur Clement Hilton 
at twenty-six. Hilton never reached the Sixth at Marlborough, 
and only took a pass degree at Cambridge, but his school and 
University record is not a fair index of his accomplishments. He 
had a genuine love of literature and archaeology, wrote clever 
verses as a boy, and excelled as an actor. Still, his early efforts 
gave little inkling of the real genius for parody revealed in the 
Light Greeny a burlesque magazine — ^the title of which was sug- 
gested by a short-lived Oxford periodical called the Dark Blue — 
two numbers of which appeared in the May Term of 1872. Hilton 
wrote the great bulk of the contents, and all the best things are 
from his pen. Some of the wittiest verses — ^notably the delicious 
burlesque version of Tennyson's May Queen — ^are too rich in 
undergraduate references to appeal to the general public, but an 
exception must be made in favour of The Heathen Pass-ee, in 
which Hilton achieved the difficult task of rewriting a famous 
humorous poem, and equalling the humour of the original. As 
for the OctopuSy it is generally admitted to be the best of all the 
inniunerable parodies of Swinbiune in the Dolores vein and stanza. 
It is a perfect caricature alike of the metrical excesses and the 



A, C, HILTON 537 



violent voluptuousness of the original. Hilton wrote a few light 
farcical plays, including his amusing Hamlet: or Not such a Fool 
as he Looks — ^which students of burlesque may like to compare 
with Gilbert's admirable Rosencrantz and Guilderstern — ^and some 
graceful verses of a graver cast, but his best work is to be foimd 
in the Light Green, Like not a few humorists, he had a deep 
underlying vein of seriousness, and taking Orders at the earliest 
possible age spent the last three years of his short life as a hard- 
working curate at Sandwich. 

Octopus * 
By Algernon Chaxles Sin-bukn 

Strange beauty, eight-limbed and eight-handed, 

Whence earnest to dazzle our eyes? 
With thy bosom bespangled and banded 

With the hues of the seas and the skies; 
Is thy home European or Asian, 

O mystical monster marine? 
Part molluscous and partly crustacean, 

Betwixt and between. 

Wast thou bom to the sound of sea tnmipets? 

Hast thou eaten and dnmk to excess 
Of the sponges — thy mufl5ns and crumpets, 

Of the seaweed — thy mustard and cress? 
Wast thou nurtured in caverns of coral. 

Remote from reproof or restraint? 
Art thou innocent, art thou immoral, 

Sinbumian or Saint? 

Lithe limbs, curling free, as a creeper 

That creeps in a desolate place, 
To enroll and envelop the sleeper 

In a silent and stealthy embrace, 
Cruel beak craning forward to bite us, 

Our juices to drain and to drink, 
Or to whelm us in waves of Cocytus, 

Indelible ink! 

* Written at the Crjrstal Palace Aquarium. 



538 THE ENGLISB P OETS 

O breast, that 'twere rapture to writhe on! 

O anus 'twere dehcious to feel 
Clinging close with the crush of the Python, 

When she maketh her murderous meal! 
In thy eight-fold embraces enfolden, 

Let our empty existence escape; 
Give us death that is glorious and golden, 

Crushed all out of shape! 

Ah! thy red lips, lascivious and luscious. 

With death in their amorous kiss, 
Cling round us, and clasp us, and crush us, 

With bi tings of agonised bliss; 
We are sick with the poison of pleasure. 

Dispense us the potion of pain; 
Ope thy mouth to its uttermost measure 

And bite us again! 

(6) W. S. GILBERT * 

[William Schwenck Gilbert was bom in London in 1836, educated 
at London University, held a clerkship in the Privy Council Office from 
1857 to 1862, and was called to the Bar in 1864. He began to write for 
the stage in 1866, his best-known plays being The Palace of Truth (1870), 
Pygmalion and Galatea (1871), The Wicked World (1873), Sweethearts 
(1874). To the earlier part of this period belong his Bab Ballads y many 
of which appeared in Fun, His famous partnership with Sir Arthur 
Sullivan was formed in 1875, *^d led to a long series of briliantly suc- 
cessful comic operas, beginning with Trial hyJury and including The 
Sorcerer y H. M. S. Pinafore^ The Pirates of Penzance, Patience, and The 
Mikado. Knighted in 1907, he died in May, 191 1, from heart failure 
"brought on by over-exertion while saving a young lady from drowning." 

W. S. Gilbert, the last of the writers of light verse who comes 
within our survey, was only five years yoimger than Calverley, 
but he outlived all the Cambridge poets noticed above, and was 
writing for at least twenty years after the death of A. C. Hilton. 
There is thus excuse for discussing him out of his strict order, and 
there are literary reasons as well. Locker compares him with the 
authors of Rejected Addresses, but it is not easy to see the aflSnity. 
In his feats of rhyming he recalls Barham, but he certainly owed 



W, S, GILBERT 539 



uolhing to Praed. His first success was achieved with the Bab 
BaUads, begun with The Yarn of the ^^ Nancy BeU,* which was de- 
clined by Punch as "too cannibalistic," but which revealed a 
distinctly new vein of extravagance. There are some critics who 
think that the Bah Ballads are his best work, and it is worthy of 
note that the plots of more than one of his comic operas are to be 
found in them. But there is no questioning the fact that his most 
enduring claim to remembrance rests on his achievements as a 
librettist. In this domain he improved so much on his forerunners 
that he founded a new schod, of which he remains the most ac- 
complished and popular representative. He had cherished other 
ambitions, and intermittently tried his fortune as a writer of 
serious or fantastico-romantic plays; but he will be remembered 
as the author of the Bab Ballads and the "books" of Trial by 
Jury, The Sorcerer^ The Mikado, Patience, H. M. S, Pinafore, and 
half a dozen other comic operas, in which the collaboration of 
librettist and composer was so close and illustrative that, as has 
been said, they form a sort of musical Punch for the last twenty 
years or so of the nineteenth century. One cannot think of Sulli- 
van's tunes without Gilbert's words, or of Gilbert's words with- 
out Sullivan's music. And if he was not a poet in that he lacked 
supreme distinction of style, fervour, and magic, he was a wonder- 
ful craftsman, a most ingenious rhymer, and a great phrase-coiner. 
In a recently published Dictionary of Quotations he is credited 
with no fewer than seventy entries — Mr. Gladstone, who stands 
next in alphabetical order, has only eight. Many of Gilbert's are 
still in use, and some (e. g. the admirable estimate of the House of 
Lords who "did nothing in particular and did it very well," or 
his crystallization of the party system as a congenial attribute of 
every British boy and girl, or his statement of the credentials of a 
ruler of the "Queen's Navee") have passed into proverbs. They 
represent in a condensed form the cynical wisdom of the plain man. 
His verse was not sensuous or passionate, but it was simple, in- 
telligible, and eminently quotable. He appealed to the plain man 
by his complete avoidance of all poetic inversions, and his faithful 
adherence to the order of good colloquial speech. He was, in the 
famous phrase which he himself applied to the Hamlet of a well- 
known actor, "funny without being vulgar," though his taste was 
not always impeccable. His "madrigals" and songs, though deft 
in workmanship, are conventional and frigid in sentiment. And 
his peculiar quality of topsy-turvydom, which has perhaps added 



S40 THE ENGUSH POETS 

the word "Gilbertian" to the language, was sometimes too me- 
chanical and calculated to be effective. It is only right to add 
that he sometimes prophesied better than he knew, as in the in- 
stance of the Duke of Plaza Toro who converted himself into a 
limited liability company. But when all deductions are made, 
Gilbert's contribution to the gaiety of the najbion and the diversion 
of those who, in Johnson's phrase, are afraid to sit at home and 
think, was perhaps larger than that of any of his contemporaries. 



Ellen M'Jones Aberdeen 

[From the Bab Ballads] 

Macphairson Clonglocketty Angus M'Clan 

Was the son of an elderly labouring man, 

YouVe guessed him a Scotchman, shrewd reader, at sight, 

And p'raps altogether, shrewd reader, you're right. 

From the bonnie blue Forth to the hills of Deeside, 
Round by Dingwall and Wrath to the mouth of the Clyde, 
There wasn't a child or a woman or man 
Who could pipe with Clonglocketty Angus M'Clan. 

No other could wake such detestable groans, 

With reed and with chaunter — ^with bag and with drones: 

All day and all night he delighted the chiels 

With sniggering pibrochs and jiggety reels. 

He'd clamber a mountain and squat on the groimd, 
And the neighbouring maidens would gather aroimd 
To list to his pipes and to gaze in his e'en, 
Especially Ellen M'Jones Aberdeen. 

All loved their M'Cian, save a Sassenach brute, 
Who came to the Highlands to fish and to shoot; 
He dressed himself up in a Highlander way. 
Though his name it was Pattison Corby Torbay. 

Torbay had incurred a good deal of expense 
To make him a Scotchman in every sense; 
But this is a matter, you'll readily own, 
That isn't a question of tailors alone. 



W, S. GILBERT 541 



A Sassenach chief may be bonily built, 
He may purchase a sporran, a bonnet, and kilt; 
Stick a skean in his hose — ^wear an acre of stripes — 
But he cannot assimie an affection for pipes. 

Clonglocketty's pipings all night and all day 
Quite frenzied poor Pattison Corby Torbay; 
The girls were amused at his singular spleen, 
Especially Ellen M'Jones Aberdeen. 

"Macphairson Clonglocketty Angus, my lad, 
With pibrochs and reels you are driving me mad; 
If you really must play on that cursed a£fair. 
My goodness! play something resembling an air." 

Boiled over the blood of Macphairson M'Clan — 
The dan of Clonglocketty rose as one man; 
For all were enraged at the insult, I ween — 
Especially Ellen M'Jones Aberdeen. 

"Let's show," said M'Clan, "to this Sassenach loon 
That the bagpipes can play him a regular time. 
Let's see," said M'Clan, as he thoughtfully sat, 
"*/« My Cottage' is easy— I'll practise at that." 

He blew at his "Cottage," and blew with a will, 
For a year, seven months, and a fortnight, imtil 
(You'll hardly believe it) M'Clan, I declare. 
Elicited something resembling an air. 

It was wild — ^it was fitful — as wild as the breeze — 
It wandered about into several keys; 
It was jerky, spasmodic, and harsh, I'm aware, 
But still it distinctly suggested an air. 

The Sassenach screamed, and the Sassenach danced, 
He shrieked in his agony — ^bellowed and pranced; 
And the maidens who gathered rejoiced at the scene, 
Especially Ellen M'Jones Aberdeen. 



542 THE ENGLISH POETS 

"Hech gather, hech gather, hech gather around; 
And fill a' yer lugs wi' the exquisite sound. 
An air frae the bagpipes — ^beat that if ye can! 
Hurrah for Clonglocketty Angus M'Clan!" 

The fame of his piping spread over the land: - 
Respectable widows proposed for his hand, 
And maidens came flocking to sit on the green — 
Especially Ellen M 'Jones Aberdeen. 

One morning the fidgety Sassenach swore 
He'd stand it no longer — ^he drew his cla)anore, 
And (this was, I think, in extremely bad taste), 
Divided Clonglocketty close to the waist. 

Oh I loud were the wailings for Angus M'Clan — 
Oh I deep was the grief for that excellent man — 
The maids stood aghast at the horrible scene, 
Especially Ellen M7ones Aberdeen, 

It sorrowed poor Pattison Corby Torbay 

To find them "take on" in this serious way. 

He pitied the poor little fluttering birds, 

And solaced their soxils with the following words: — 

"Oh, maidens," said Pattison, touching his hat, 
"Don't snivel, my dears, for a fellow like that: 
Observe, I'm a very superior man, 
A much better fellow than Angus M'Clan." 

They smiled when he winked and addressed them as "dears,'' 
And they all of them vowed, as they dried up their tears, 
A pleasanter gentleman never was seen — 
Especially Ellen M 'Jones Aberdeen. 



W. S, GILBERT 543 



The Judge's Song 
[From Trial by Jury] 

When I, good friends, was called to the Bar, 

I'd an appetite fresh and hearty, 
But I was, as many young barristers are, 

An impecunious party. 
I'd a swallow-tail coat of a beautiful blue — 

A brief which was brought by a booby — 
A couple of shirts and a collar or two, 

And a ring that looked like a ruby! 

In Westminster Hall I danced a dance, 

Like a semi-despondent fury; 
For I thought I should never hit on a chance 

Of addressing a British Jury — 
But I soon got tired of third-class journeys, 

And dinners of bread and water; 
So I fell in love wfth a rich attorney's 

Elderly, ugly daughter. 

The rich attorney, he wiped his eyes, 

And replied to my fond professions: 
"You shall reap the reward of your enterprise, 

At the Bailey and Middlesex Sessions. 
You'll soon get used to her looks," said he, 

"And a very nice girl you'll find her — 
She may very well pass for forty-three 

In the du^, with a light behind her I" 

The rich attorney was as good as his word: 

The briefs came trooping gaily, 
And every day my voice was heard 

At the Sessions or Ancient Bailey. 
AU thieves who could my fees afford 

Relied on my orations, 
And many a burglar I've restored 

To his friends and his relations. 



S44 THE ENGLISH POETS 

At length I became as rich as the Gurneys — 

An incubus then I thought her, 
So I threw over that rich attorney's 

Elderiy, ugly daughter. 
The rich attorney my character high 

Tried vainly to disparage — 
And now, if you please, I'm ready to try 

This Breach of Promise of Marriage! 



The Policeman's Lot 
[From The Pirates of Penzance] 

When a felon's not engaged in his employment, 

Or maturing his felonious little plans, 
His capacity for innocent enjoyment 

Is just as great as any honest man's. 
Our feelings we with difficulty smother 

When constabulary duty's to be done: 
Ah, take one consideration with another, 

A policeman's lot is not a happy one! 

When the enterprising burglar's not a-burgling, 

When the cut-throat isn't occupied in crime. 
He loves to hear the httle brook a-gurgling. 

And listen to the merry village chime. 
When the coster's finished jumping on his mother, 

He loves to lie a-basking in the sim: 
Ah, take one consideration with another. 

The policeman's lot is not a happy onel 



STEPHEN PHILLIPS 

[Born at Summertown, near Oxford, July 28, 1864: eldest son of 
Stephen Phillips, D. D; Precentor and Hon. Canon of Peterborough. 
Educated at the Grammar School, Stratford-on-Avon, and Oundle 
School: was intended for the dvil service but took to the stage, joining 
the travelling company of his cousin F. R. Benson. He had a genius for 
poetic reading and recitation, but small talent as an actor. Leaving the 
stage he joined the staff of an Army tutor near London. After a few 
experimental volumes of verse {Primavera, 1890; Eremus, 1894; Christ 
in Hades y 1896) he gained sudden reputation and success on being 
awarded in 1897 a prize for the best volume of poems of the year offered 
by the proprietors of The Academy. The volume included one of his 
finest things, Marpessa, and won immediate popularity, as did several 
of the poetical dramas which soon afterwards he wrote for the stage. 
Then the critical fashion changed; nor were his later works up to the 
standard of their predecessors. He continued to produce both dramas 
and volumes of occasional verse, and died at -HastiiigsrDecember g,V^- 
191 5. The list of his published writings after the Poems of 1897 is as 
follows: Paolo and Francesca, 1899; Herod y 1900; Ulysses, 1902; New 
Poems, 1903; The Sin of David, 1904; Nero, 1906; The Last Heir (drama), 
1908; Pietro of Siena, 1910; The New Inferno, 1910; The King, 191 2; 
Lyrics and Dramas, 1913; lole, 1913; Armageddon, 1915; Panama, 1915.] 

In regard to this poet the critical pendulum had for some years 
before his death swung sharply from the side of over-praise to 
that of over-neglect. It will some day recover its equilibrium, 
and Phillips will then be recognized as having belonged, by the 
gift of passion ("the all-in-all in poetry," as Lamb has it,) by 
natural largeness of style and pomp and melody of rhythm and 
diction, as well as by intensity of imaginative vision in those 
fields where his imagination was really awake, to the great lineage 
and high tradition of English poetry. Yes, too directly to the 
lineage and too faithfully to the tradition, the advocatus diaboli 
may interpose. It has been especially charged against him that 
h is b^y^^c yerse too closely reproduces the cadences of Milton and 
of Tennyson. But this is to mistake absorption, which is one thing. 



546 THE ENGLISH POETS 

for imitation, which is quite another. It is true that he was no 
great metrical inventor or innovator, though some of his experi- 
ments in unrhymed lyric — ^for instance, A Gleam and The Re- 
vealed Madonna cited below — are to my mind among the most 
successful that have been tried in English. But he was able to 
stamp an individuality, strong though not revolutionary or ec- 
centric, on blank verse whether narrative or dramatic, on the 
closed "heroic" couplet, that form almost disused since the ro- 
mantic revival, and on such ancient and popular never-to-be- 
wom out measures a3 the familiar alternately rhyming eight-and 
six. As to originality not of form but of matter, it may be ob- 
served that when Phillips chose to rehandle themes on which 
predecessors, even the greatest, had set their mark, so far from 
imitating, he for better or worse always attacked them according 
to conceptions of his own. His Endymion, a thing over-mannered 
and far from first-rate, is in conception and treatment wholly 
independent of Keats. Other good cases in point are the two short 
pieces. The Parting of Launcelot and Guinevere^ a Tennjrsonian 
theme wrought without Tennyson's cunning technique but with 
an intensity of passion beyond his reach, and the admirably vivid 
tragic vision of Beatrice Cenci in the little lyric so named, which 
might have been written just as it is had Shelley not existed. 

Other criticisms directed against Phillips's work have more 
foundation than the charge o f imitativeness. He worked more by 
gusts^f inspiration than by sustained care m craftsmanship, and 
often allowed a lax or feeble line to intrude even into his finest 
passages. He was also too prone to self-repetition and to that 
form of poetical rhetoric which consists in trying to reinforce an 
idea or heighten an image by rewording it over again with no 
essential change of thought. 

Subject to these besetting flaws, he has left achievements of 
striking^gersonalit}^ and ppwer in a wide range of themes . In 
handling the smiple, direct, univereaniuiirian Joys and sorrows, 
the longings and regrets, connected with the sexual and conjugal, 
the parental and filial relations, his touch is often as new and 
revealing as it is tender. For the sense of the past in the present, 
the stirrings of far-off legendary association, the apprehension of 
vibrating cosmic sympathies between the external universe and 
man aroused in the human spirit in moments of emotional tension 
or tragic passion— for these he found forms of utterance which 
were beautiful and entirely his own. Themes of mystical religion 



STEPHEN PHILLIPS 547 

and gropings beyond the grave were never far from his thoughts 
and inspired much of his work, to my mind rarely of his best, from 
Christ in Hades down to The New Inferno. There is a . distressful 
power and sadnes s, a sadness sometimes rising to the pitch of 
agony, m some poems of personal confession and supplication 
forced upon him by the struggle against enemies within himself 
stronger than he could resist. 

Passing to work done in more objective moods, he has left some 
presenting with true power and originality impressions of char- 
acter and destiny among crushed and suffering city lives. His 
surface observation both of the crowd and individuals was in- 
tense: his divination and suggestion of histories behind the sur- 
face imaginative and penetrating: The Fireman and The Revealed 
Madonna are the only specimens in these veins for which I have 
found space. In his later years he was accustomed to take poetic 
note of the changing aspects brought into the world by the progress 
of mechanical invention, the disappearance of sails from the sea, 
the invasion of the sky by aeroplanes and the Uke. Such notes, 
adroitly and tellingly written as they often are, hardly rise suf- 
ficiently above the level of newspaper verse to survive for their 
own s^e as poetry, though they will be of interest in retrospect 
as marking the effect of these changes on a powerful and sensitive 
spirit in their day. 

So far I have said nothing of the dramas which after the year 
1900 absorbed most of Phillips's energies and constitute by far the 
chief bulk of his work. His later attempts in that form, lole, The 
Adversary^ The King, and Armageddon^ may, I think, be dismissed 
as giving evidence of exhausted faculties and containing only here 
and there a phrase or line or two of the old power. Faust was a 
collaboration piece and made small pretension to originality. 
There remain the five, Paolo and Francesca, Herod, Ulysses, Nero, 
and The Sin of David, Several of these have proved successful on 
the stage: all have scenes and passages of stirring beauty and power. 
It has been objected to them that the poet, having been an actor 
and working with actors, has constructed his plays with too obvious 
and mechanical a stagecraft; that they are weak in the elements of 
character creation; that the persons are not made to speak vitally 
from within, but to describe and expound themselves in speeches 
put into their mouths from without, as it were decoratively and 
artificially; that the speeches themselves are too rhetorical, and 
the rhetoric often too ornate and flowery and sometimes redundant 



S48 THE ENGUSH POETS 

and tautological. Against this it may justly be urged that, after 
all, knowledge of stagecraft is a good thing in a playwright, and 
that Phillips's aim in drama was intended to be on Greek lines 
much rather than on Shakespearian: that the intense, the Shake- 
spearian individualization of characters has been no part of the 
aim, still less of the achievement, of tragic drama in some of the 
great literatures of the world, — ^it is not a capital element either in 
the Greek drama or the classical French: and again, that rhetoric 
in poetic drama there needs must be, and between the right and 
appropriate rhetoric of a situation, when it is touched with pas- 
sion and imagination, as much of it in these plays truly is, — be- 
tween such rhetoric and truly great dramatic poetry the line is 
difficult to draw, if it can be drawn at all. 

In the following examples none are included from Phillips's 
dramatic work, and from his longer poems only one, a part of the 
forecast by which Marpessa justifies her choice of her mortal lover 
Idas against her divine lover Apollo. The other ^ecimens are 
complete short pieces chosen, so far as was possible within the 
necessary limits of space, to illustrate the range and varieties of 
the poet's manner. 

Sidney Colvin. 

Marpessa ^ 

"But if I live with Idas, then we two 

On the low earth shall prosper hand in hand 

In odours of the open field, and live 

In peaceful noises of the farm, and watch 

The pastoral fields burned by the setting sun. 

And he shall give me passionate children, not 

Some radiant god that will despise me quite, 

But clambering limbs and little hearts that err. 

And I shall sleep beside him in the night. 

And fearful from some dream shall touch his hand 

Secure; or at some festival we two 

Will wander through the lighted city streets; 

And in the crowd I'll take his arm and feel 

Him closer for the press. So shall we live. 

And though the first sweet sting of love be past, 

» Reprinted by permission of Stephen Phillips's publisher, John Lane Company. Copy- 
right 1897 by John Lane and 1905 by John Lane Company. 



STEPHEN PHILLIPS 549 



The sweet that ahnost venom is; though youth, 
With tender and extravagant delight, 
The first and secret kiss by twilight hedge, 
The insane farewell repeated o'er and o*er, 
Pass off; there shall succeed a faithful peace; 
Beautiful friendship tried by sun and wind. 
Durable from the daily dust of life. 
And though with sadder, still with kinder eyes, 
We shall behold all frailties, we shall haste 
To pardon, and with mellowing minds to bless. 
Then though we must grow old, we shall grow old 
Together, and he shall not greatly miss 
My bloom faded, and waning light of eyes, 
Too deeply gazed in ever to seem dim; 
Nor shall we murmur at, nor much regret 
The years that gently bend us to the groimd. 
And gradually incline our face; that we 
Leisurely stooping, and with each slow step, 
May curiously inspect our lasting home. 
But we shall sit with luminous holy smiles, 
Endeared by many griefs, by many a jest, 
And custom sweet of living side by side; 
And full of memories not unkindly glance 
Upon each other. Last, we shall descend 
Into the natural groimd — ^not without tears — 
One must go first, ah god! one must go first; 
After so long one blow for both were good; 
Still like old friends, glad to have met, and leave 
Behind a wholesome memory on the earth. 
And thou, beautiful god, in that far time, 
When in thy setting sweet thou gazest down 
On this grey head, wilt thou remember then 
That once I pleased thee, that I once was young?" 



A Poet's Prayer 

That I have felt the rushing wind of Thee: 
That I have run before Thy blast to sea; 
That my one moment of transcendent strife 
Is more than many years of listless life; 
Beautiful Power, I praise Thee: yet I send 



5SO THE ENGLISH POETS 

A prayer that sudden strength be not the end. 

Desert me not when from my flagging sails 

Thy breathing dies away, and virtue fails: 

When Thou hast spent the glory of that gust, 

Remember still the body of this dust. 

Not then when I am boundless, without bars, 

When I am rapt in hurry to the stars; 

When I anticipate an endless bhss, 

And feel before my time the final kiss. 

Not then I need Thee: for delight is wise, 

I err not in the freedom of the skies; 

I fear not joy, so joy might ever be. 

And rapture finish in felicity. 

But when Thy joy is past; comes in the test, 

To front the life that lingers after zest: 

To Uve in mere negation of Thy light, 

A more than blindless after more than sight. 

Tis not in flesh so swiftly to descend. 

And sudden from the spheres with earth to blend; 

And I, from splendour thrown, and dashed from dream, 

Into the flare pursue the former gleam. 

Sustain me in that hour with Thy left hand. 

And aid me, when I cease to soar, to stand; 

Make me Thy athlete even in my bed. 

Thy girded runner though the course be sped; 

Still to refrain that I may more bestow, 

From sternness to a larger sweetness grow. 

I ask not that false calm which many feign. 

And call that peace which is a dearth of pain. 

True calm doth quiver like the calmest star; 

It is that white where all the colours are; 

And for its very vestibule doth own 

The tree of Jesus and the pyre of Joan. 

Thither I press: but O do Thou meanwhile 

Support me in privations of Thy smile. 

Spaces Thou hast ordained the stars between 

And silences where melody hath been: 

Teach me those absences of fire to face, 

And Thee no less in silence to embrace. 

Else shall Thy dreadful gift still people Hell, 

And men not measure from what height I fell. 



STEPHEN PHILLIPS 551 



The Fireman 

(An impression of the street) 

His foe is fire, fire, fire!- 
Hark his hoarse dispersing cry, 
From his path asunder fly! 
Speed! or men and women die, 
For his foe is fire, fire! 

His foe is fire, fire, fire! 
He is armed and helmed in brass; 
Let his thimdering chargers pass; 
Be the iron Strand as grass. 
For their foe is fire, fire! 

His foe is fire, fire, fire! 
On he rushes as in gold, 
Under him a chariot rolled, 
As in Roman triumph old, 
But his foe is fire, fire! 

His foe is fire, fire, fire I 
Red the vault above him reels. 
Now the blistering stairway peels 
But the battle-bUss he feels. 
For his foe is fire, fire! 

His foe is fire, fire, fire! 
Up the ladder flies he light, 
Disappears in dreadful night, 
Now re-starts upon the sight. 
Sudden out of fire, fixe! 

His foe is fire, fire, fire! 
And no word the hero saith. 
Only on his arm hath breath 
Something between life and death. 
Snatched from fire, fire, fire! 



552 THE ENGLISH POETS 

His foe is fire, fire, fire! 
Bring him to the victor's car 
Richer is his spoil of war, 
Than from Roman battle far, 
Who has triumphed over fire. 



Penelope to Ulysses 

Thou marvellest, husband, that I sit so mute 

And motionless, but gazing on that face 

Which now the pine-fire throws up in a flame, 

Now leaves in darkest night as thou dost lean 

MassQy drooping toward the log-fed blaze. 

Such silence has come down upon us two! 

Yet a good silence after so long years. 

We only are awake and the live seal 

But thou who hast borne all things may'st perhaps 

Bear with a woman's fancies while she speaJts them. 

Think not, my man of men, that I am cold 

In passion or heart! Far otherwise! I see. 

And nothing else I see, the brow that took 

The blow of strange waves and the furious kiss 

Of different winds, the sad heaven-roaming eyes, 

The mighty hands that piloted all night. 

Yet art thou paler than my dream of thee. 

Forgive me, O my lord, but I must speak. 

Well — ^all these years have I imagimed thee 

So constantly that now thy visible form. 

How noble! seems but shadow of such sight. 

For I have seen thee in the deep of night 

Leap silent, sudden up the stair, and I 

Fell toward thee in the darkness with a cry, 

Fluttering upon thy bosom like a bird. 

And I have seen thee spring upon this earth; 

Then have I often just upon daybreak 

Started and run down to the beach and heard 

Thy boat grate on the pebbles: or again 

It has been noon and thou hast come in arms 

Over the sweet fields calling out my name. 



STEPHEN PHILLIPS 553 

Sometimes in tragic nights of surf and cloud 
Thou hast been thrown headlong in howling wind 
On the sharp coast and up the sea-bank streamed, 
Alone. This then I strive to shape to words — 
Thou hadst become with passing days and years, 
With night and tempest, and with sun and sea, 
A presence hovering in all lights and airs. 
Thou wert the soul then of the evening star, 
And thou didst roam heaven in the seeking moon, 
Thou secretly wouldst speak from stirring leaves, 
And what was dawn but some surprise of thee? 
So, husband, though this heart beats wild at thee, 
Yet lesser in imagination 
Art thou returned than evermore returning. 
Nature is but a body from henceforth. 
The soul departed, the spirit gone of her. 
The waves cry unintelligibly now, 
That then "Ulysses" and "Ulysses" still 
Hissed sweetly, privately, the livelong night. 
Ah! but thou hear'st me not, canst only hear 
A roar of memories, and for thee this house 
Still plunges and takes the sea-spray evermore. 
Yet come! How thou art weary none can tell. 
How wise, how sad, how deaf to babbled words. 
Yet come, and fold me, not as in old nights. 
But now with perils kiss me, wind me roxmd 
With wonder, murmur magic in my ear. 
And clasp me with the world, with nothing less! 



Beatrice CENa 

Who stealeth from the turret-stair 
In raiment white with streaming hair? 
The moon is hid, the stars are pale, 
The night-wind hath forgot to wail. 
Like to a priestess seemeth she 
Addressed to some dread ministry. 
What solemn sacrifice or rite 
Comes she to celebrate this night? 
A deed of Hell, and yet of Heaven, 



SS4 THE ENGUSH POETS 

Into these slender hands is given; 
Blood must she spill, but evil blood, 
As evil as hath ever flowed. 
Now enters she the moonlit room; 
She sees a bed bright in the gloom, 
Whereon an old man slumbers deep; 
Ah, God, how well the wicked sleep! 
But a faint breathing all she hears. 
As silently the couch she nears. 
Now the bright dagger at her breast 
She plucks from out her maiden vest. 
Why hesitates she? and a space 
Uncertain stands above that face? 
Is it some memory of youth. 
That brings upon her heart this ruth? 
Some far-off picture that she sees, 
When she was dandled on his knees? 
Is it the hair, so utter white. 
Hair that should seem a holy sight? 
Then the red shame leaps to her heart 
And furious thoughts again upstart. 
0*er him she leans; no eyelid he 
Stirs as tho' warned of destiny. 

What cry was that? A single cry. 
That pierced the palace to the sky? 
And then came down a silence deep. 
Yet had each sleeper leapt from sleep, 
And wandering lights and hurrying feet. 
Hither and thither shadows fleet. 
But she in silence pure and clean 
Passed to her chamber all unseen. 



STEPHEN PHILLIPS 55$ 



The Parting of Launcelot and Guinevere 

Into a high-walled nunnery had fled 
Queen Guinevere, amid the shade to weep, 
And to repent 'mid solemn boughs, and love 
The cold globe of the moon; but now as she 
Meekly the scarcely-breathing garden walked, 
She saw, and stood, and swooned at Launcelot, 
Who burned in sudden steel like a blue flame 
Amid the cloister. Then, when she revived, 
He came and looked on her: in the dark place 
So pale her beauty was, the sweetness such 
That he half-closed his eyes and deeply breathed; 
And as he gazed, there came into his mind 
That night of May, with pulsing stars, the strange 
Perfumed darkness, and delicious guilt 
In silent hour; but at the last he said: 
"Suffer me, lady, but to kiss thy lips 
Once, and to go away for evermore." 
But she replied, "Nay, I beseech thee, go! 
Sweet were those kisses in the deep of night; 
But from those kisses is this ruin come. 
Sweet was thy touch, but now I wail at it, 
And I have hope to see the face of Christ: 
Many are saints in heaven who sinned as I." 
Then said he, "Since it is thy will, I go." 
But those that stood around could scarce endure 
To see the dolour of these two; for he 
Swooned in his burning armour to her face. 
And both cried out as at the touch of spears: 
And as two trees at midnight, when the breeze 
Comes over them, now to each other bend. 
And now withdraw; so mournfully these two 
Still drooped together and still drew apart. 
Then like one dead her ladies bore away 
The heavy queen; and Launcelot went out 
And through a forest weeping rode all night. 



SS6 THE ENGUSH POETS 



A Gleam! 

Ah! You and I love our boy. 

Such a warrior is he; 

So splendid of limb, so swift and so joyous, 

At his lightest word we touch each other and smile; 

We watch him secretly, earnestly, out of the shadow, 

Our eyes like angels attend him about the room. 

Ah! You and I love our boy! 

And yet when we wander out in the falling darkness. 

When the glooming garden discloses her soul in dew. 

In that hour of odour and longing, 

Of voices ceasing in leaves, 

When a himian trouble arises from evening meadows, 

A divine home-sickness from heaped grass, 

Then I know that it is not of him you are thinking sorely, 

But still you remember the other, the girl-child that vanished. 

Scarce had we kissed her with awe, when she died: 

We but named her, and lost her. 

And they say to us, "Why, O why, 

With yon beautiful boy in your sight, 

Do ye still hark back to the other face that is fled?" 

But because of her swiftness in passing, 

Because she just smiled, and died; 

She moveth us more than the other to tender thought, 

And the wistful puzzle of tears. 

I shall know, ere the sun arises, 

By a sudden stirring of thee, 

Or blind slight touch in the dark, 

Or face upturned in quivering dream. 

That your heart, like mine, has gone home in the hush to its dead, 

Through dew and beginning birds; 

Unto her hath returned, 

Who dazzled, and left us to darkness, 

But a beam, but a gleam! 



STEPHEN PHILLIPS 557 



The Revealed Madonna 

As I stood in the tavem-reek, amid oaths and curses, 

'Mid husbands entreated and drugged, 
Amid mothers poisoned and still of the poison sipping, 

Here harboured from storms of home; 
For a moment the evil glare on a woman falling 

Disclosed her with babe at her breast; 
An instant she downward gazed on the babe that slumbered, 

And holy the tavern grew, 
For she gazed with the brooding look of the mother of Jesus, 

On her lips the divine half-smile; 
An instant she smiled; then the tavern reeled back hellward. 

And I heard but the oath and the curse.* 

1 These poems are reprinted from Stephen Phillips's Lyrics and Dramas by i)ermission 
oi the John Lane Company, copyright 1913 by John Lane. 



HON. EMILY LAWLESS 

[Born in Ireland in 1845, ^^ daughter of the third Lord Cloncuny. 
Much of her youth was passed in Ireland, in the country by the sea, 
where she developed to the full her remarkable powers of observation, 
whether of the animal and insect world or of human character. She 
wrote various scientific papers, and in 1886 published her first novel, 
Hurrishf which was followed by five or six others, by A Garden Diary 
(1901), and by a volume of poems, With the Wild Geese (1902). Her 
last years were spent in England: she died October 21, 1913.] 

It was as a delightful novelist that Emily Lawless first became 
known to the world. In the two studies of peasant life in Western 
Ireland, Hurrish and Crania, she embodied her own close and 
tender knowledge of the Clare and Galway country — ^its land- 
scape, its people, its laughter, its tragedies, and all its wild natural 
life; while in the two historical novels or quasi-novels of Maelcho 
and With Essex in Ireland, she brought imagination, and a pas- 
sionate sympathy, to bear on the historical wrongs and miseries 
of the land she loved. She belonged to one of the Anglo-Irish 
families, who represent in that tormented country the only fusion 
so far attained there between the English and Irish tempers. Her 
grandfather was imprisoned in the Tower in 1798 for complicity 
with the United Irish conspiracy, but the ex-rebel ended his da)rs 
as an English peer, the husband of a Scottish wife, and an en- 
lightened landowner in Kildare, devoted to the interests of his 
tenantry and estates. Down to the last generation the family 
was Catholic, and kinsmen of Emily Lawless had fought valiantly 
for Catholic emancipation and hotly opposed the Union. A 
Lawless — probably of her blood — ^became a member of the latest 
Irish Legion fighting for France, on his escape from Ireland after 
the collapse of the rebellion of '98. In spite, therefore, of her 
many English friends and connexions, Emily Lawless was by 
nature and feeling a patriotic Irishwoman, with a full share of 
Irish hiunour and Irish poetry. Her childhood and youth were 
passed in a free open-air life, now among the woods and fields of 
Mid Ireland, now by the sea. She became a considerable natu- 
ralist, a great reader, and a dreamer whose dreams took shape, at 
first in her novels, and then in her few poems. If Mr. Yeats's 



HON, EMILY LAWLESS 559 

verse is steeped in the mists and the magic of Ireland, if Moira 
O'Neill in The Glens of Antrim reflects the Irish simplicity — ^which 
is neither sentimental nor insipid, but touched, always, at the 
heart of it, with irony and pity — ^Emily Lawless's best poems 
strike a sombre and powerful note, stirred in her, it would seem, 
by the grandeur of the Atlantic coast she knew so .well, and by 
long brooding over the history of Ireland. There is passion in 
it — passion, one might almost think, of vicarious pain — ^working 
in one who felt in herself the blood of both peoples, of the oppres- 
sor and the oppressed. 

The "Wild Geese' * was the name given by the romantic and 
sorrowful imagination of the Irish to those exiled sons of Ireland 
who, after Limerick and the Boyne, migrated in their thousands 
over seas, and fought against England in half the armies of the 
Continent. Thejr avenged Limerick at Fontenoy, and were 
still — ^under Napoleon — ^fighting out the issues of 1689, when the 
nineteenth century dawned. The cry of Ireland to these cast-out 
sons of hers is finely given in After Aughrim (the battle fought 
after the taking of Athlone in 1691) ; and the yearning of the Irish 
fugitives for their lost coimtry breathes in the beautiful twin- 
poems "Before the Battle" and "After the Battle"— the first 
expressing the hunger of the Irishman for battle, for revenge, and 
the native land he will never see again; and the second, a vision 
of the triumphant dead coming home at last to "the stony hills 
of Clare." 

But the noblest poem of them all is the Dirge of the Munster 
Forest, The forests of Ireland had sheltered the Irish forces of 
the Desmonds in the ghastly war of 1581; and in the devastation 
that followed on their defeat, the forests were not forgotten by the 
victors. They had given shelter to the rebels, and like them they 
were ruthlessly slain. The invitation of the Forest to her own 
funeral feast is vividly and masterly felt. There are some Eliza- 
bethan echoes in it, as befits its supposed date. But as a whole, 
it lias the true "inevitable" ring; it could not have been said 
otherwise; and it ought to keep eternally green the memory of a 
brave and gifted woman. She died in 191 3, after a long and 
wearing illness, in which, almost to the end, scarcely any of her 
friends guessed what she had suffered, so high was her Irish cour- 
age, and so indomitable her Irish wit and her warm Irish heart, 

Mary A. Ward. 

^ See Stopford Brooke's historical Preface to the Poems. 



56o THE ENGLISH POETS 



After Aughrim 

She said, "They gave me of their best, 
They lived, they gave their hVes for me; 
I tossed them to the howling waste. 
And fiimg them to the foaming sea." 

She said, "I never gave them aught, 
Not mine the power, if mine the will; 
I let them starve, I let them bleed,-^ 
They bled and starved, and loved me still." 

She said, "Ten times they fought for me, 
Ten times they strove with might and main, 
Ten times I saw them beaten down, 
Ten times they rose, and fought again." 

She said, "I stayed alone at home, 
A dreary woman, grey and cold; 
I never asked them how they fared, 
Yet still they loved me as of old." 

She said, "I never called them sons, 
I almost ceased to breathe their name. 
Then caught it echoing down the wind. 
Blown backwards from the lips of Fame." 

She said, "Not mine, not mine that fame; 
Far over sea, far over land. 
Cast forth like rubbish from my shores. 
They won it yonder, sword in hand." 

She said, "God knows they owe me nought, 
I tossed them to the foaming sea, 
I tossed them to the howling waste, 
Yet still their love comes home to me" 



HON. EMILY LAWLESS 561 



Dirge of the Munster Forest, 1581 

Bring out the hemlock! bring the funeral yew! 

The faithful ivy that doth all enfold; 

Heap high the rocks, the patient brown earth strew, 

And cover them against the numbing cold. 

Marshal my retinue of bird and beast, 

Wren, titmouse, robin, birds of every hue; 

Let none keep back, no, not the very least, 

Nor fox, nor deer, nor tiny nibbling crew. 

Only bid one of all my forest clan 

Keep far from us on this our funeral day. 

On the grey wolf I lay my sovereign ban. 

The great grey wolf who scrapes the earth away; 

Lest, with hooked claw and furious hunger, he 

Lay bare my dead for gloating foes to see — 

Lay bare my dead, who died, and died for me. 

For I must shortly die as they have died. 

And lo! my doom stands yoked and linked with theirs; 

The axe is sharpened to cut down my pride: 

I pass, I die, and leave no natural heirs. 

Soon shall my sylvan coronals be cast; 

My hidden sanctuaries, my secret ways, 

Naked must stand to the rebellious blast; 

No Spring shall quicken what this Autumn slays. 

Therefore, while still I keep my russet crown, 

I summon all my lieges to the feast. 

Hither, ye flutterers! black, or pied, or brown; 

Hither, ye furred ones! Hither every beast! 

Only to one of all my forest clan 

I cry, "Avaunt! Our mourning revels flee!" 

On the grey wolf I lay my sovereign ban, 

The great grey wolf with scraping claws, lest he 

Lay bare my dead for gloating foes to see — 

Lay bare my dead, who died, and died for me. 



S62 THE ENGLISH POETS 



FONTENOY, 1745 

1.— Before the Battle; night 

Oh bad the march, the weary march, beneath these alien skies, 
But good the night, the friendly night, that soothes our tired eyes. 
And bad the war, the tedious war, that keeps us sweltering here. 
But good the hour, the friendly hour, that brings the battle near. 
That brings us on the battle, that summons to their share 
The homeless troops, the banished men, the exUed sons of Clare. 

Oh little Corca Bascinn, the wild, the bleak, the fair! 

Oh little stony pastures, whose flowers are sweet, if rare! 

Oh rough and rude Atlantic, the thimderous, the wide. 

Whose kiss is like a soldier's kiss which will not be denied! 

The whole night long we dream of you, and waking think we're 

there, — 
Vain dream, and foolish waking, we never shall see Clare. 

The wind is wild to-night, there's battle in the air; 
The wind is from the west, and it seems to blow from Clare. 
Have you nothing, nothing for us, loud brawler of the night? 
No news to warm our hearts-strings, to speed us through the fight? 
In this hollow, star-pricked darkness, as in the sim's hot glare, 
In sun-tide, moon-tide, star-tide, we thirst, we starve for Clare! 

Hark! yonder through the darkness one distant rat-tat-tat! 

The old foe stirs out there, God bless his soul for that! 

The old foe musters strongly, he's coming on at last. 

And Clare's Brigade may claim its own wherever blows fall fast. 

Send us, ye western breezes, our ftdl, our rightful share. 

For Faith, and Fame, and Honour, and the ruined hearths of Clare. 



HON. EMILY LAWLESS 563 

FONTENOY, 1745 

n. — After the Battle; early dawn, Clare coast 

"Mary mother ^ shield us! Say, what men are ye, 
Sweeping past so swiftly on this morning sea? " 
"Without sails or rowlocks merrily we glide 
Home to Corca Bascimi on the brimming tide." 

"Jesus save you, gentry! why are ye so white, 
Sitting all so straight and still in this misty light? 
"Nothing ails us, brother; joyous souls are we, 
Sailing home together, on the morning sea. 

"Cousins, friends, and kinsfolk, children of the land, 
Here we come together, a merry, rousing band; 
Sailing home together from the last great fight, 
Home to Clare from Fontenoy, in the morning light. 

"Men of Corca Bascinn, men of Clare's Brigade, 
Harken, stony hills of Clare, hear the charge we made; 
See us come together, singing from the fight. 
Home to Corca Bascinn, in the morning light." 



FRANCIS THOMPSON 

[Born 1859, at Preston, where his father was a homoeopathic doctor. 
His parents and uncles, one of whom was a professor in the Catholic 
University, Dublin, were of the Roman Catholic religion, as was the son. 
Educated at Ushaw; at first intended for the priesthood, but afterwards 
studied medidne at Owens College, with no success. Unfortunately, 
having read De Quincey's Confessions, he took to opimn; went to London 
1885, and fell into the depths of poverty, but was discovered and res- 
cued by Mr. and Mrs. Meynell, under whose protection he partly broke 
the evil habit, so that in 1893 he was able to issue his first volume of 
Poems, which ran through five editions in two years. Published Sister 
Songs 1895, and New Poems 1897, the last chiefly written in Wales, near 
the Franciscan Convent; and, later, various essays, reviews, and Catho- 
lic biographies. Died in London, of consumption, November 1907.] 

Francis Thompson came very near to being a great, a very 
great, poet; he would pretty certainly have been one had he not 
clouded his brain and shortened his life by the indulgence referred 
to above. Never did plausible writing do greater harm than was 
done to this rare mind by those pages in which De Quincey glorifies 
opiiun, saying that whereas "wine robs a man of his self-posses- 
sion, opium sustains and reinforces it. . . . Opium communicates 
serenity and equipoise to all. the faculties, active or passive. . . . 
The opiiun-eater feels that the diviner part of his nature is para- 
mount — that is, the moral affections are in a state of cloudless 
serenity, and high over all the great light of the majestic intellect." 
Young Thompson believed all this, with the result that we know. 
But when, under the joint influence of religion and of more than 
parental care, he was able to write, his best work reached a standard 
attained by very few, whether of his own time or earlier. Bume- 
Jones, if we may refer to an often-quoted passage, declared in 
1893 that "since GabriePs Blessed Damozel, no mystical words 
had so touched him as The Hound of Heaven f^ and judgments 
not less enthusiastic were passed by Coventry Patmore, Wilfrid 
Blunt, and — ^naturally enough — ^by Thompson's protectors, the 



FRANCIS THOMPSON 565 

MeyneUs. About the same time he wrote, and dedicated to the 
young daughters of his friends, a volume of Sister Songs; we quote 
from it some lines which both illustrate the grateful affection 
which he felt to the family and give a pathetic picture of the 
misery from which they had delivered him. In the interval be- 
tween 1893 2i^d the publication of New Poems (1897), ^ genius, 
we will not say ripened, but deepened; witness our third extract, 
which both in its grasp of the central idea an d in its q uick^^suc- 
cession of vivid images comes very near to the great passages in 
SEak^peare. But there is another side. Thompson either could 
not or would not realize the beauty of s i mplicity . He became, 
to a greater and greater dcgTfee, consciously "and wilfuDy abstruse, 
and many of his later verses are positively unintelligible, while he 
grew more and more fond of nidogismeSy new words, old words 
with new terminations, and, to use a much-ridiculed phrase of 
his own, "the illuminous and volute redundance" of sounds. In 
fact, such is his inequality that Mrs. Meynell, the one "author- 
ized" exponent, has found it desirable to publish a volume of 
SdectionSj though the aggregate of his poems is so small. Still, it 
is well to remember that one success in poetry outweighs many 
failures; and two of the three poems from which we quote are 
successes that no survey of modem English verse can afford to 
overlook. 

Editor. 

The Hound of Heaven ^ 

I fled Him, down the nights and down the da)rs; 

I fled Him, down the arches of the years; 
I fled Him, down the labjnirithine ways 

Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears 
I hid from Him, and under running laughter. 
Up vistaed hopes, I sped; 
And shot, precipitated 
Adown Titanic glooms of chasmed fears. 

From those strong Feet that followed, followed after. 
But with unhunying chase. 
And unperturb6d pace. 
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy, 

1 These selections from Francis Thompson's poems are reprinted by permission of the 
publishers, John Lane Company. 



566 THE ENGLISH POETS 



They beat— and a Voice beat 
More instant than the Feet— 
"All things betray thee, who betrayest Me." 
I pleaded, outlaw-wise, 
By many a hearted casement, curtained red, 

Trellised with intertwining charities; 
(For, though I knew His love Who followed, 

Yet was I sore adread 
Lest, having Him, I must have naught beside) 
But, if one little casement parted wide. 

The gust of His approach would clash it to; 
Fear wist not to evade, as Love wist to pursue. 
Across the margent of the world I fled, 

And troubled the gold gateways of the stars, 
Smiting for shelter on their chang6d bars; 
Fretted to dulcet jars 
And silvern chatter the pale ports o' the moon. 
I said to dawn; Be sudden — to eve: Be soon; 
With thy young skiey blossoms heap me over 
From this tremendous Lover! 
Float thy vague veil about me, lest He see! 
I tempted all His servitors, but to find 
My own betrayal in their constancy, 
In faith to Him their fickleness to me, 

Their traitorous trueness, and their loyal deceit, 
To all swift things for swiftness did I sue; 

Clung to the whistling mane of every wind. 
But whether they swept, smoothly fleet. 
The long savannahs of the blue; 
Or whether. Thunder-driven, 
They clanged His chariot 'thwart a heaven, 
Plashy with flying lightnings round the spurn o' their feet:- 
Fear wist not to evade as Love wist to pursue. 
Still with imhurrying chase, 
And imperturb^d pace. 
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy. 
Came on the following Feet, 
And a Voice above their beat — 
"Naught shelters thee, who wilt not shelter Me." 

I sought no more that, after which I strayed, 
In face of man or maid; 



FRANCIS THOMPSON 567 

But still within the little children's eyes 

Seems something, something that replies, 
• They at least are for me,- surely for me! 
I turned me to them very wistftdly; 
But just as their young eyes grew sudden fair 

With dawning answers there, 
Their angel plucked me from them by the hair. 
"Come then, ye other children, Nature's — share 
With me" (I said) "your delicate fellowship; 

Let me greet you lip to lip. 

Let me twine you with caresses, 
Wantoning 

With our Lady-Mother*s vagrant tresses, 
Banqueting 

With her in her wind-walled palace. 

Underneath her aziured dais. 

Quaffing, as your taintless way is. 
From a chalice 
Lucent-weeping out of the dayspring." 

So it was done: 
/ in their delicate fellowship was one — 
Drew the bolt of Nature's secrecies. 

/ knew all the swift importings 

On the wilful face of skies; 

I knew how the clouds arise 

Spvun6d of the wild sca-snortings; 
All that's bom or dies 

Rose and drooped with — ^made them shapers 
Of mine own moods, or wailful or divine — 

With them joyed and was bereaven. 

I was heavy with the even. 

When she lit her glimmering tapers 

Roimd the day's dead sanctities. 

I laughed in the morning's eyes. 
I triumphed and I saddened with all weather, 

Heaven and I wept together, 
And its sweet tears were salt with mortal mine; 
Against the red throb of its simset-heart 

I laid my own to beat, 

And share commingling heat: 



S68 THE ENGLISH POETS 

But not by that, by that, was eased my human smart. 
In vain my tears were wet on Heaven's grey cheek. 
For ah! we know not what each other says, 

These things and I; in sound / speak — 
Their sound is but their stir, they speak by silences. 
Nature, poor stepdame, cannot slake my drouth. 

Let her, if she would owe me. 
Drop yon blue bosom-veil of sky, and show me 

Tlie breasts o' her tenderness: 
Never did any milk of hers once bless 
My thirsting mouth. 
Nigh and nigh draws the chase, 
With unperturbed pace. 

Deliberate ^)eed majestic instancy 

And past those Noised Feet 

A voice comes yet more fleet — 
"Lo! naught contents thee, who content'st not Me." 

Naked I wait Thy love's uplifted stroke! 
My harness piece by piece Thou hast hewn from me, 
And smitten me to my knee; 

I am defenceless utterly, 

I slept, methinks, and woke. 
And, slowly gazing, And me stripped in sleep. 
In the rash lustihead of my young powers, 

I shook the pillaring hours 
And pulled my life upon me; grimed with smears, 
I stand amid the dust o' the mounded years — 
My mangled youth lies dead beneath the heap. 
My days have crackled and gone up in smoke. 
Have puffed and burst as sun-starts on a stream. 

Yea, faileth now even dream 
The dreamer, and the lute the lutanist; 
Even the linked fantasies, in whose blossomy twist 
I swimg the earth a trinket at my wrist. 
Are yielding; cords of all too weak account 
For earth with heavy griefs so overplussed 

Ah! is Thy love indeed 
A weed, albeit an amaranthine weed, 



FRANCIS THOMPSON 569 

Suflfering no flowers except its own to mount? 

Ah! must — 

Designer infinite! — 
Ah! must Thou char the wood ere Thou canst limn with it? 

My freshness spent its wavering shower i' the dust; 

And now my heart is a broken fount, 

Wherein tear-drippings stagnate, spilt down ever 

From the dank thoughts that shiver 
Upon the sighful branches of my mind. 

Such is; what is to be? 
The pulp so bitter, how shall taste the rind? 
I dimly guess what Time in mists confounds: 
Yet ever and anon a trumpet sounds 
From the hid battlements of Eternity, 
Those shaken mists a space unsettle, then 
Round the half-glimps^ turrets slowly wash again; 

But not ere him who summoneth 

I first have seen, enwound 
With glooming robes purpureal, c)rpress-crowned; 
His name I know, and what his trumpet saith. 
Whether man's heart or life it be which yields 

Thee harvest, must Thy harvest fields 

Be dunged with rotten death? 
Now of that long pursuit 
Comes on at hand the bruit; 
That Voice is round me like a bursting sea; 
"And is thy earth so marred, 
Shattered in shard on shard? 
Lo, all things fly thee^for thou fliest Me! 

"Strange, piteous, futile thing! 
Wherefore shoiild any set thee love apart? 
Seeing none but I makes much of naught" (He said) 
"And human love needs hiunan meriting: 

How hast thou merited — 
Of all man's clotted clay the dingiest clot? 

Alack, thou knowest not 
How little worthy of any love thou art! 
Whom wilt thou find to love ignoble thee, 

Save Me, save only Me? 



57© THE ENGLISH POETS 

All which I took from thee I did but take, 

Not for thy harms, 
But just that thou might^st seek it in My arms. 

All which thy child's mistake 
Fancies as lost, I have stored for thee at home: 

Rise, clasp My hand, and come." 

Halts by me that footfall; 

Is my gloom, after all. 

Shade of His hand, outstretched caressingly? 

"Ah, fondest, blindest, weakest, 

I am He Whom thou seekest! 

Thou dravest love from thee, who dravest Me." 



From "Sister Songs," 1895 

A kiss? for a child's kiss? 
Aye, goddess, even for this. 
Once, bright Sylviola! in days not far. 
Once — in that nightmare-time which still doth haunt 
My dreams, a grim, unbidden visitant — 

Forlorn, and faint, and stark, 
I had endured through watches of the dark 
The abashless inquisition of each star. 
Yea, was the outcast mark 

Of all those heavenly passers' scrutiny; 
Stood bound and helplessly 
For Time to shoot his barbed minutes at me; 
Suffered the trampling hoof of every hour 
In night's slow-wheel6d car; 
Until the tardy dawn dragged me at length 
From under the dread wheels; and, bled of strength, 
I waited the inevitable last. 
Then came there past 
A child; like thee, a spring-flower; but a flower 
Fallen from the budded coronal of Spring, 
And through the city-streets blown withering! — 
And of her own scant pittance did she give, 
That I might eat and live; 



FRANCIS THOMPSON 571 

Then fled, a swift and trackless fugitive. 

Therefore I kissed in thee 
The heart of childhood, so divine for me; 

And her, through what sore ways, 

And what unchildish days, 
Borne from me now, as then, a trackless fugitive. 

Therefore I kissed in thee 

Her, child! and innocency. 
And spring, and all things that have gone from me, 

And that shall never be; 
All vanished hopes, and all most hopeless bliss. 

Came with thee to my kiss. 
And ah! so long myself had strayed afar 
From child and woman, and the boon earth's green, 
And all wherewith life's face is fair beseen; 

Journeying its journey bare 
Five Sims, except of the all-kissing sun 

Unkissed of one; 

Almost I had forgot 

The healing harms. 
And whitest witchery, a-lurk in that 
Authentic cestus of two girdling arms; 

And I remembered not 
The subtle sanctities which dart 
From childish lips' unvalued precious brush, 
Nor how it makes the sudden lilies push 

Between the loosening fibres of the heart. 

Then, that thy little kiss 

Should be to me all this. 
Let workaday wisdom blink sage lids thereat; 
Which towers a flight three hedgerows high, poor bat! 
And straightway charts me out the empyreal air. 
Its chart I wing not by, its canon of worth 
Scorn not, nor reck though mine should breed it mirth; 
And howso thou and I may be disjoint, 
Yet still my falcon spirit makes her point 

Over the covert where 
Thou, sweetest quarry, hast put in from her I 



S72 THE ENGUSH POETS 

The End op it 

(From New Poems, 1897) 

She did not love to love; but hated him 

For making her to love, and so her whim 

From passion taught misprision to begin; 

And all this sin 

Was because love to cast out had no skill 

Self, which was regent still. 

Her own self-will made void her own self's will. 



• JOHN DAVIDSON 

[John Davidson, bor n iSs^ and educated at Edinburgh University 
(1876-7), was for some years a schoobnaster. His first pubb'cation was 
Bruce, a poetic drama (1886). In 1889 he came to London, where he 
lived by his pen as journalist and writer of fiction. Fleet Street Eclogues 
(1893, John Lane) first made his reputation as a poet. He was granted 
a Civil List Pension in 1906. He was found drowned at Penzance in 
1909. His output was large. The author of a number of volumes of 
verse, he was also responsible for many novels and plays.] 

To one at least of the definitions of poetry does the work of 
John Davidson correspond. It is a criticism of life, a series of 
essays in human values. What, he asks, is the real worth of this 
mode of thought, of this course of action? How far are the world's 
accepted standards absolutely valid? These are the questions he 
puts and answers, sometimes in philosophical narratives, some- 
times in more directly discursive dialogues and soliloquies. The 
greater part of Davidson's work is frankly didactic. He is without 
that disinterested passion for pure psychology which led Brown- 
ing to expoimd so many contradictory philosophies of life, simply 
because the mind of men had conceived them and that all mental 
activity, as such, deserves consideration. D avidson is a morali st, 
not a psychologist. He always sets out t(iT3ffive UUfflCL'fllh^, ancl 
each poem is an argument in support of his general philosophy. 

"It has been said: Ye must be bom again. 
I say to you: Men must be that they are." 

In these lines Davidson has given expression to the fundamental 
article of his creed. His poems are the elaboration of this theme. 
There is no one infallible prescription which a man must follow 
in order to lead a good life. Salvation is to be found in the un- 
trammelled development of personality; there are as many roads 
to it as there are individuals seeking it. The traditional preju- 
dices of thought, the conditions of modern life, at once artificial and 
sordid, are fetters which cramp human growth, which, worn long 
enough, will dwarf and distort the spirit of man. We must away 
with these, says Davidson. Men must be free to work out their own 
salvation unhindered by an artificial complication of circumstances. 



574 THE ENGUSH POETS 

David son^s philosophy is one of strenuous romanticism , com- 
bining as it does the creeds of individualistic anarchy and moral 
earnestness. He rejects some of the most flashy tenets of roman- 
ticism — the idea of "genius" as the supreme good, and the notion 
of a spiritual "escape" out of the material world. He denies the 
possibility of separating the spiritual from the material, the soul 
from the body. Men must live in action , reaching good through 
the purifying ordeal ot evil and sorrow. The escape from material 
active life is an escape from responsibility. Davidson's anarchic 
individual has a touch of the muscular Christian in him. 

We have called Davidson a didactic poet; and if we want to 
pigeon-hole and classify any farther, we may add that he has the 
makings of a "nature-poet." His natural descriptions display a 
very genuine appreciation and are often beautiful, though he is 
apt to bring nature into his poems in order to enforce the some- 
what hackneyed moral, " God made the country and man made 
the town." Hi s descriptive methods are those of the seventeenth 
centi ; py . He paints nature in those elaborately anthropomorphic 
conceits so dear to Crashaw and his contemporaries of the "meta- 
physical" school. Such an image as 

"In chestnut sconces opening wide 
Tapers shall bum some fresh May mom/' 

is an example of the suggestive charm of this sort of description 
when carried out successfully. And Davidson is generally success- 
ful, though his conceits lapse sometimes into mere quaintness, as 
when he speaks of sun and cloud playing a game of blind-man's 
buflf, in the course of which the sun claims 

"Forfeit on forfeit, as he pressed 
The mountains to his burning breast." 

This unevenness, this tendency to slip suddenly from beauty to 
absurdity, is characteristic of Davidson's whole work. Passages 
of striking originality alternate with flat conventionalities that 
are poetical only as "poetic diction" is poetical. In his BaUads, 
for instance — those didactic romances enriched with all the orna- 
ments of cultured poetry and as unlike real ballads as well might 
be — stanzas, of a force and brilliance truly poetical, shine out 
from dull sing-song passages of rhymed prose. In Davidson's 
work, together with flatness, the other and opposite fault of over- 
emphasis is frequently to be found. In reading him we are likely 



JOHN DAVIDSON 575 



to be troubled with "the sulphurous huff-snuff" of a good deal 
of high-astounding fustian. 

But in studying uneven work, it is the business of the apprecia- 
tive reader to look not at the depressions, but at the poetical 
elevations. Davidson possesses the Art of Rising as well as the 
Art of Sinking. The merits which, at the crest of his achievement, 
he displays are among the cardinal poetic virtues. The terse 
expression of concentrated thought, imaginative boldness, beauty 
as well of imagery as of diction — these are qualities of Davidson's 
poetry at its best. Add to this his earnest moral purpose, and 
even the critic who still retains the conception of poetry as a 
"sugared pill" of doctrine made palatable by fancy, will sub- 
scribe to the judgment which allows Davidson a place among 
the poets. 

Aldous Hxjxley. 

Piper, Play^ 

Now the furnaces are out, 

And the aching anvils sleep; 
Down the road the grimy rout 
Tramples homeward twenty deep. 
Piper, play! Piper, play! 
Though we be o'erlaboured men 
Ripe for rest, pipe your best! 
Let us foot it once again. 

Bridled looms delay their din; 

All the hmnming wheels are spent; 
Busy spindles cease to spin; 
Warp and woof must rest content. 
Piper, play! Piper, play! 

For a little we are free! 
Foot it, girls, and shake your curls, 
Haggard creatures though we bel 

Racked and soiled, the faded air 

Freshens in our holiday; 
Clouds and tides our respite share; 

Breezes linger by the way. 

» " Piper. Play " and "A Ballad of Heaven " are reprinted by permission of Mr. David- 
son's publishers, John Lane Company. They are copyrighted 1904, by John Lane. 



576 THE ENGLISH POETS 

Piper, rest! Piper, rfest! 

Now, a carol of the moon! 
Piper, piper, play your best! 

Melt the sun into your tune! 

I We are of the humblest grade; 
I Yet we dare to dance our fill: 
Male and female were we made — 
Fathers, mothers, lovers still! 
Piper — softly; soft and low; 

Pipe of love in mellow notes. 
Till the tears begin to flow. 
Till our hearts are in our throats. 

Nameless as the stars of night 

Far in galaxies imfurled. 
Yet we wield unrivalled might. 
Joints and hinges of the world! 
Night and day! Night and day! 

Sound the song the hours rehearse! 
Work and play! Work and play! 
The order of the universe! 

Now the furnaces are out. 

And the aching anvils sleep; 
Down the road a merry roiit 
Dances homeward twenty deep. 
Piper, play! Piper, play! 

Wearied people though we be, 
Ripe for rest, pipe your best! 
For a little we are free! 



A Ballad of Heaven 

He wrought at one great work for years; 

The world passed by with lofty look: 
Sometimes his eyes were dashed with tears; 

Sometimes his lips with laughter shook. 

His wife and child went clothed in rags. 
And in a windy garret starved; 

He trod his measures on the flags. 
And high in heaven his music carved. 



JOHN DAVIDSON 577 



Wistful he grew, but never feared; 

For always on the midnight skies 
His rich orchestral score appeared 

In stars and zones and galaxies. 

He thought to copy down his score; 

The moonlight was his lamp; he said, 
"Listen, my love; " but on the floor 

His wife and child were lying dead. 

Her hollow eyes were open wide; 

He deemed she heard with special zest: 
Her death's-head infant coldly eyed 

The desert of her shrunken breast. 

"Listen, my love: my work is done; 

I tremble as I touch the page 
To sign the sentence of the sim, 

And crown the great eternal age. 

"The slow adagio begins; 

The winding-sheets are ravelled out 
That swathe the minds of men, the sins 

That wrap their rotting souls about. 

"The dead are heralded along 
With silver trumps and golden drums, 

And flutes and oboes, keen and strong. 
My brave andante singing comes. 

"Then like a python's sumptuous dress 
The frame of things is cast away. 

And out of Time's obscure distress, 
The thundering scherzo crashes Day. 

" For three great orchestras I hope 
My mighty music shall be scored: 

On three high hills they shall have scope 
With heaven's vault for a soimding-board. 



S78 THE ENGLISH POETS 

"Sleep well, love; let your eyelids fall; 

Cover the child; good-night, and f . . . 
What? Speak ... the traitorous end of alll 

Both . . . cold and hungry . . . cold and stiff! 



"But no, God means us well, I trust. 

Dear ones, be happy, hope is nigh: 
We are too young to fall to dust, 

And too imsatisfied to die." 

He lifted up against his breast 
The woman's body, stark and wan; 

And to her withered bosom pressed 
The little skin-clad skeleton. 

"You see you are alive," he cried. 

He rocked them gently to and fro. 
"No, no, my love, you have not died, 

Nor you, my little fellow; no." 

Long in his arms he strained his dead, 
And crooned an antique lullaby; 

Then laid them on the lowly bed. 
And broke down with a doleful cry. 

"The love, the hope, the blood, the brain, 
Of her and me, the budding life. 

And my great music — all in vain! 
My imscored work, my child, my wife! 

"We drop into oblivion. 

And nourish some suburban sod: 
My work, this woman, this my son 

Are now no more: there is no God. 

"The world's a dustbin; we are due, 
And death's cart waits: be life accurst!" 

He stumbled down besides the two, 
And clasping them, his great heart burst. 



JOHN DAVIDSON 579 



Straightway he stood at heaven's gate, 
Abashed and trembling for his sin: 

I trow he had not long to wait, 
For God came out and led him in. 

And then there ran a radiant pair, 

Ruddy with haste and eager-eyed, 
To meet him first upon the stair — 

His wife and child beatified. 

They dad him in a robe of light. 
And gave him heavenly food to eat; 

Great seraphs praised him to the height, 
Archangels sat about his feet. 

God, smiling, took him by the hand. 
And led him to the brink of heaven: 

He saw where systems whirling stand, 
Where galaxies like snow are driven. 

Dead silence reigned; a shudder ran 

Through space; Time furled his wearied wings; 
A slow adagio then began, 

Sweetly resolving troubled things. 

The dead were heralded along: 
As if with drums and trumps of flame, 

And flutes and oboes keen and strong, 
A brave andante singing came. 

Then like a python's siunptuous dress. 
The frame of things was cast away. 

And out of Time's obscure distress 
The conquering scherzo thundered Day. 

He doubted; but God said, "Even so: 
Nothing is lost that's wrought with tears; 

The music that you made below 
Is now the music of the spheres." 



CANADIAN POETRY 

[By Professor Pelham Edgar, Toronto] 

In writing of Canadian poetry one can be more enthusiastic 
in anticipation than in retrospect. We were slow in making a be- 
ginning. Until the eighties of the last century everything with us 
had been weakly imitative, and Howe, Heavysege, Sangster, and 
MacLachlan, the poets of the earlier time, are mere names in a 
meaningless enumeration. The poets of Lampman's generation 
gave us our real start, and since then we have accumulated a body 
of verse that is sufficiently distinguished to merit attention be- 
yond the limits of our local boimdaries. 

It is mistaken kindness to expect of the transatlantic poet 
something naively crude and aboriginal. In any event our poets 
have never responded to any tacit invitation to eccentricity, and 
we can point to no abnormal developments born of the desire to 
be at all costs and hazards Canadian. In French Canada, indeed, 
since the passing of that eminently national poet Fr6chette, the 
tendency has been quite in the other direction, and in the interest- 
ing work of Nelligan and Jean Morin the divorce from local in- 
fluence is absolute. Our English Canadian poets of the recent 
time have submitted themselves to a dual control, leaving their 
minds open alike to the suggestions that flow in from their im- 
mediate surroimdings and to the impressions inspired by contact 
with the world's best thought. If the imputation of provinciality 
still clings to us it is for the reason that we are not even yet in the 
main current of ideas, and our intellectual life has not yet reached 
the pitch of intensity that demands artistic utterance. Our early 
writers suffered the inevitable penalties of isolation, and not know- 
ing where to turn for inspiration they became timid copyists of 
indifferent models. Their successors, with a surer sense of poetic 
values, have written in a spirit of free and ideal imitation, and 
have been wisely content to let their originality take care of itself, 
knowing instinctively that a distinguishing quality would inevitably 
communicate itself to their work either from the special conditions 
of their environment, or, if they were themselves not highly sensi- 
tive to local suggestion, at least from the spedal complexion of 
their own minds. 



CANADIAN POETRY 581 

Miss Valancy Crawford is the earliest writer of whose work 
specimens are reproduced in the following selections. When we 
read her verse we realize how wide is the distance to be traversed 
from the servile copy to the work which, though it may originate 
in a fertile hint of method or suggestion of thought in some foreign 
source, is still the authentic utterance of a single mind. Until 
Miss Valancy Crawford began to write, this arduous intellectual 
journey had not been attempted, and were it not for the fact that 
her worth was so long imsuspected by the public she might fittingly 
be acclaimed the "Mother of Canadian poetry." 

Who the father may be is a question of late much and idly dis- 
puted. It is safest to accept the multiple parentage suggested in 
the first paragraph, which derives our lineage from the middle 
eighties of the last century. Much fresh, inspired, and inspiring 
work came then from the Eastern Provinces, where Mr. C. G. D. 
Roberts and Mr. Bliss Carman were yoimg men together with no 
thought of a career outside of poetry; from Ottowa, where Lamp- 
man and Mr. D. C. Scott had formed one of those friendships 
which sweeten the records of literature; and from Toronto, where 
Mr. Wilfred Campbell, a more solitary figure, had began to produce 
his lyrics descriptive of the Great Lake region. A score of names 
might be added to make the tale of our Canadian poetry complete; 
but these men pointed the way, and their significance as orginators, 
no less than the inherent merits of their work, will ensure them a 
perpetuity at least of local fame. 

Viewing their poetry attentively one is impressed by the fact 
that they are not novices in the art of verse. They have perfected 
themselves in so far as their genius permitted by a deliberate study 
of the masters of the craft, and it is a sufiiciently simple thing to 
note, especially in their early work, reflections of the manner, and 
sometimes of the thought, of Keats, Arnold, Tennyson, Poe, Swin- 
burne, or Browning. Their verse, then, is civilized enough, and, to 
a European reader curious of novelties and solicitous of the "bar- 
baric yawp" of yoimg democracy, it may seem at first imduly 
tentative and tame. But it will soon be evident to such a reader 
that their work is something more than a mere imitative exercise. 
Each of these men has his own characteristic and individual note, 
and into the work of all enters the breath of the wind-washed 
spaces of our new continent. 

Mr. Carman and Mr. Roberts have for many years past ceased 
to live in Canada, yet their influence notably persists in the work 



S82 THE ENGLISH POETS 

of many of our younger writers. They have founded no school of 
poetry, yet it counts much for inspiration that they have estab- 
lished a standard of artistic excellence in a new land. Each has 
his special votaries among us, but many of us seem to find an 
ampler development of power in the work of Mr. D. C. Scott, 
whose poetry by an unusual process of growth has increasing fresh- 
ness and vitality as the years go by. Mr. William Archer once 
noted the " magically luminous phrases " in which his verse abounds. 
These felicities he has never lost, and he gives us now a poetry in 
which emotion and thought, the sensation and the idea, are glowly 
fused. He would be an interesting poet in any country. 



ISABELLA VALANCY CRAWFORD 

[Born in Dublin, 1850; died at Toronto, 1887. She came to Canada 
as a child. She published one volume: Old Spookses* Pass, Malcolm's 
Kaiie, and Other Poems. Her collected poems appeared in 1905, edited 
by Mr. J. W. Garvin, and with an introduction by Miss Ethelw3ai 
Wetherald.] 

Isabella Valancy Crawford used to print her verses in the cor- 
ners of a Toronto evening paper, and she gathered them into a 
volume shortly before she died. Her talent might have asserted 
itself more victoriously with altered conditions, but under circum- 
stances apparently the most adverse it refused to acknowledge 
defeat. She was poor, she was isolated from intellectual friend- 
ships, she was without recognition, and almost, one may say, with- 
out a country — for she left Ireland too young to have her memories 
rooted there, and had grown up in a land that had but feebly as 
yet developed its sense of nationhood. The only patriotic theme 
that inspired her was the Riel rebellion with its three dead heroes. 

We can discover models, or at least sources of inspiration, for 
her younger contemporaries, for Mr. Roberts, Mr. Carman, and 
Archibald Lampman, but in Miss Crawford's case it is not possible 
to name either her masters on her disciples in the craft of verse. 
The certain strokes of her art proclaim her of the great tradition, 
yet she is not the slave of any particular style. She is not a picker 
up of discarded phrases nor a renovator of outworn themes. Her 



ISABELLA VALANCY CRAWFORD 583 

charm is peculiarly her own, and had her opportunities for literary 
intercourse been greater her originality, the most precious of her 
gifts, might conceivably have been less. One is sensible throughout 
her work of the springing vigour of her poetic fancy, and of the un- 
failing wealth of her imagery, which is " fresh and has the dew upon 
it." Miss Wetherald, whose introduction to the Collected Poems 
deserves to be read, speaks of her power of striking out in direct 
and forcible phrases " the athletic imagery that crowded her brain," 
and nothing indeed is more remarkable than the energetic way in 
which she conceives and executes her themes. What has been 
said of her may seem excessive praise, but if one accepts these 
superlatives as bearing upon the work of an avowedly minor poet 
they may be condoned. One last thing to note in a young poetry 
so preponderatingly descriptive as ours is Valancy Crawford's 
entire freedom from pedantry. She strikes no bargain with nature, 
but she looks outwards with unspoiled eyes and combines all her 
century's passion for beauty with the simplicity of a less sophisti- 
cated time. 



La Blanchisseuse 

Margaton at early dawn 

Thro' the vineyard takes her way, 
With her basket piled with lawn 

And with kerchiefs red and gay. 
To the stream which babbles past 

Grove, chateau, and clanking mill. 
As it runs it chatters fast 
Like a woman with a will: 
"Blanchisseuse, Blanchisseuse, 

Here I come from Picardy! 
Hurry ofiF thy wooden shoes, 
I will wash thy clothes with thee!" 

Margaton's a shapely maid; 

Laughter haunts her large, soft eye; 
When she trips by vineyard shade 

Trips the sun with her, say I. 
Wooden shoes she lays aside, 

Puts her linen in the rill; 



584 TBE ENGUSH PGETS 

And the stream, in gossip's pride, 
Chatters to her with a will: 
"Blanchisseuse, Blanchisseuse, 

I — ^I know a thing or two! 
Thus, this is the latest news, 
Some one dreams of eyes of blue!'* 



Margaton her linen wrings. 

White between her ruddy hands; 
O'er her feet the rillet sings, 

Dimpling all its golden sands; 
Hawthorn blushes touch her hair, 

Birdlings twitter sweet and shrill. 
Sunbeams seek her everywhere; 
Gossips on the wordy rill: 
'^Blanchisseuse, Blanchisseuse, 

He who dreams has lands and flocks! 
Margaton may idly choose 
Pebbles in the place of rocks! '* 

Margaton her linen treads, 

Ankle-dimple deep her feet; 
Nod the stately green fern-heads, 

Nod the violets damp and sweet; 
Dewy places in the wood 

With the ruddy morning fill; 
Silenter the downy brood, 
Chatters on the gossip rill: 
'^ Blanchisseuse, Blanchisseuse, 

He who dreams is rich and great I 
Margaton may idly choose 
Golden sorrow for a mate!" 

Margaton her linen wrings; 

Day's gold goblet overflows; 
Leaves are stirred with glancing wings; 

One can smell the distant rose. 
" Silly stream, the Cur6 said 

Just such warning yesterday!" 



ISABELLA VALANCY CRAWFORD 585 

Rippling o*er its pebbly bed, 
Still the stream would have its say: 
"Blanchisseuse, Blanchisseuse, 

Yet another tale I know, 
Some one dreams of, runs my news, 
Golden heart in bosom's snow I" 

Margaton her linen spreads 

On the violet bank to dry; 
Droop the willows low their heads, 

Curious, for her low reply: 
"Dearest stream, but yesternight 

Whispered Jean those words to mel" 
And the rillet in its flight 
Buzzed and murmured like a bee: 
"Blanchisseuse, Blanchisseuse, 

He who dreams is good and true I 
How can Margaton refuse? 
Blanchisseuse, adieu, adieu!" 



Said the Daisy 

There ne'er was blown out of the yellow east 

So fresh, so fair, so sweet a mom as this. 
The dear earth decked herself as for a feast; 

And, as for me, I trembled with my bliss. 
The young grass round me was so rich with dew. 

And sang me such sweet, tender strains, as low 
The breath of dawn among its tall spikes blew; 

But what it sang none but myself can know! 

O never came so glad a mom before! 

So rosy dimpling burst the infant light. 
So crystal pure the air the meadows o'er. 

The lark with such young rapture took his flight. 
The round world seemed not older by an hour 

Than mine own daisy self! I laughed to see 
How, when her first red roses paled and died, 

The blue sky smiled, and decked her azure lea 
With daisy clouds, white, pink-fringed, just like me! 



586 THE ENGLISH POETS 

"This is a morn for song," sang out the lark, 

"O silver-tressed beloved!" My golden eye 
Watched his brown wing blot out the last star-spark 

Amidst the daisy cloudlets of the sky. 
"No morn so sweet as this, so pure, so fair — 

God's bud time," so the oldest whitethorn said, 
And she has lived so long; yet here and there 

Such fresh white buds begem her ancient head. 

And from her thorny bosom all last night 

Deep in my dew-sealed sleep I heard a note — 
So sweet a voice of anguish and dehght 

I dreamed a red star had a bird-like throat 
And that its rays were music which had crept 

'Mid the white scented blossoms of the thorn, 
And that to hear her sing the still night «wept 

With mists and dew imtil the yellow morn. 

I wonder, wonder what the song he sang, 

That seemed to drown in melody the vales! 
I knew my lark's song as he skyward sprang. 

But only roses know the nightingale's. 
The yellow cowslip bent her honeyed lips 

And whispered: "Daisy, wert thou but as high 
As I am, thou couldst see the merry ships 

On yon blue wondrous field blown gaily by." 

A gay, small wind, arch as a ruddy fox, 

Crept round my slender, green and dainty stem, 
And piped: "Let me but shake thy silver locks 

And free thy bent head from its diadem 
Of diamond dew, and thou shalt rise and gaze. 

Like the tall cowslips, o'er the rustling grass. 
On proud, high cliffs, bright strands and sparkling bays, 

Aiid watch the white ships as they gaily pass." 

"Oh, while thou mayst keep thou thy crystal dew!" 
Said the aged thorn, where sang the heart of night, 

The nightingale: "The sea is very blue. 
The sails of ships are wondrous swift and white. 



ISABELLA VALANCY CRAWFORD 587 

Soon, soon enough thy dew will sparkling die, 
And thou, with burning brow and thirsty lips. 

Wilt turn the golden circle of thine eye, 
Nor joy in them, on ocean and her ships!" 

There never flew across the violet hills 

A mom so like a dove with jewelled eyes. 
With soft wings fluttering like the sound of rills. 

And gentle breast of rose and azure dyes. 
The purple trumpets of the clover sent 

Such rich, dew-loosened perfume, and the bee 
Hung like a gold drop in the woodbine's tent. 

What care I for the gay ships and the sea! 



The Rose 

The Rose was given to man for this: 
He, sudden seeing it in later years, 

Should swift remember Love's first lingering kiss 
And Grief's last lingering tears; 

Or, being blind, should feel its yearning soul 
Knit all its piercing perfume round his own, 

Till he should see on Memory's ample scroll 
All roses he had known; 

Or, being hard, perchance his finger-tips 
Careless might touchy the satin of its cup, 

And he should feel a dead babe's budding Hps 
To his lips lifted up; 

Or, being deaf and smitten with its star. 
Should, on a sudden, almost hear a lark 

Rush singing up — the nightingale afar 
Sing thro' the dew-bright dark; 

Or, sorrow-lost in paths that round and round 
Circle old graves, its keen and vital breath 

Should call to him within the yew's bleak bound 
Of Life, and not of Death. 



S88 THE ENGLISH POETS 



O Love 

O Love builds on the azure sea, 
And Love builds on the golden sand, 

And Love biulds on the rose-winged cloud, 
And sometimes Love builds aa the land! 

O if Love build on sparkling sea, 
And if Love build on golden strand, 

And if Love build on rosy cloud, 
To Love these are the solid land I 

O Love will build his lily walls, 
And Love his pearly roof will rear 

On cloud, or land, or mist, or sea — 
Love's solid land is everywhere! 



WILLIAM HENRY DRUMMOND 

[Born 1854, at Currawn, Co. Leitiim, Ireland; died in Canada, 1907. 
He came as a boy to Canada, where he subsequently practised medicine 
and engaged in mining. Three volumes of verse appeared in his life- 
time: The Habitant J Johnny Courteau, and The Voyageur; and posthu- 
mously The Great Fight, with a memoir by his wife.] 

The demand is frequently made upon our poets to write verse 
that is distinctively Canadian, and Dnunmond in his clever dia- 
lect poetry has satisfied that demand more nearly than any of our 
writers save a still living singer of our Klondike civilization. It is 
a poetry that when well executed obtains and deserves its popu- 
larity, but when one has praised the skill in rhyming and the poet's 
power to fix a definite type of character, the work of criticism is 
complete. Genre poetry by its nature is sectional rather than 
national. The merit of Drummond's performance is that with 
much humour and sympathetic insight he has portrayed a section 
of our Canadian people that is both imposing as to numbers and 
has had time to develop well-marked characteristics. Our Eng- 



WILUAM HENRY DRUMMOND 589 

lish-speaking Canadian (one makes exception of the Irish, Scotch, 
or English emigrant) eludes the analysis of poetry, and will prove 
for many years to come a baffling problem for the novelist. But 
the French-Canadian habitant has his aptitudes and his limita- 
tions, his prejudices and his passions, laid bare to the eye of the 
skiUed observer. Yet so convincing is the picture that Drummond 
gives us that we run the risk of imder-estimating the genius that 
contrived it. 

For the proper appreciation of his poems we must imagine a 
habitant telling his story in the best language he can command to 
a sympathetic English listener. 



The Wreck op the "Julie Plante " 
A Legend of Lac St. Pierre 

On wan dark night on Lac St. Pierre, 

De win' she blow, blow, blow. 
An' de crew of the wood scow Jidie Plante 

Got scar 't an' run below — 
For de win' she blow lak hurricane, 

Bimeby she blow some more. 
An' de scow bus' up on Lac St. Pierre 

Wan arpent from de shore. 

De captinne walk on de fronte deck, 

An' walk de hin' deck too — 
He call de crew from up de hole. 

He call de cook also. 
De cook she's name was Rosie, 

She come from Montreal, 
Was chambre maid on lumber barge, 

On de Grande Lachine Canal. 

De win' she blow from nor' — eas' — ^wes* — 

De sout' win' she blow too, 
W'en Rosie cry "Mon cher captinne, 

Mon cher, w'at I shall do?" 



SQO THE ENGLISH POETS 

Den de captinne t'row de big ankerre 
But still de scow she dreef, 

De crew he can't pass on de shore, 
Becos' he los' hees skeef . 



De night was dark lak' wan black cat, 

De wave run high an* fas', 
Wen de captinne tak' de Rosie girl 

An' tie her to de mas'. 
Den he also tak* de life preserve. 

An' jump oflf on de lak'. 
An' say, " Good-bye, ma Rosie dear, 

I go drown for your sak'." 

Nex' morning very early, 

'Bout ha'f-pas' two — ^t'ree — ^four — 
De captinne — scow — ^an' de poor Rosie 

Was corpses on de shore, 
For the win' she blow lak' hurricane 

Bimeby she blow some more. 
An' de scow bus' up on Lac St. Pierre 

Wan arpent from de shore. 



Moral 

Now all good wood scow sailor man 

Tak' warning by dat storm 
An' go an' marry some nice French girl 

An' leev on wan beeg farm. 
De win' can blow lak' hurricane. 

An' spose she blow some more. 
You can't get drown on Lac St. Pierre 

So long you stay on shore. 



WILLIAM HENRY DRUMMOND 591 

Johnnie's First Moose 

De cloud is hide de moon, but dere's plaintee light above, 

Steady, Johnnie, steady — ^kip your head down low, 

Move de paddle leetle quicker, an' de ole canoe we'll shove 

T'roo de water nice an' quiet 

For de place we're goin' try it 

Is beyon' de silver birch dere, 

You can see it lak a church dere 
Wen we're passin' on de corner w'ere de lily flower grow. 

Wasn't dat correc' w'at I'm tolin' you jus' now? 

Steady, Johnnie, steady — ^kip your head down low. 

Never min', I'll watch behin' — me — ^an' you can watch de bow, 

An' you'll see a leetle clearer 

Wen canoe is comin' nearer — 

Dere she is — ^now easy, easy, 

For de win' is gettin' breezy, 
An' we don't want not'ing smell us, tUl de hombegin to blow. 

I remember long ago w'en ma fader tak' me out. 
Steady, Johnnie, steady — ^kip your head down low. 
Jus' de way I'm takin' you, sir, hello! was dat a shout? 

Seems to me I t'ink I'm hearin' 

Somet'ing stirrin' on de clearin' 

W'ere it stan' de lumber shaintee; 

If it's true, den you'll have plaintee 
Work to do in half a minute, if de moose don't start to go. 

An' now we're on de shore, let us hide de ole canoe. 
Steady, Johnnie, steady — ^kip your head down low. 
An' lie among de rushes, dat's bes' t'ing we can do. 

For de ole boy may be closer 

Dan anybody know, sir. 

An' look out you don't be shakin' 

Or de bad shot you'll be makin'; 
But I'm feelin' sam' way too, me, w'en I was young, also. 

You ready for de call? here goes for number wan, 
Steady, Johnnie, steady — ^kip your head down low, 
Did you hear how nice I do it, an' how it travel on 



592 THE ENGLISH POETS 

Till it reach across de reever 
Dat'll geev' some moose de fever! 
Wait now, Johmiie, don't you worry, 
No use bein' on de hurry, 
But lissen for de answer, it'll come before you know. 

For w'y you jomp lak dat? w'at's matter wit' your ear? 
Steady, Johnnie, steady — ^kip your head down low — 
Tak' your finger ofiF de trigger, dat was only bird you hear. 

Can't you tell de pine tree crickin* 

Or de boule frog w'en he's spikin'? 

Don't you know de grey owl singin' 

From de beeg moose w'en he's ringin' 
Out hees challenge on de message your ole gran'fader blow? 

You're lucky boy to-night, wit' hunter man lak me! 
Steady, Johnnie, steady — ^kip your head down low — 
Can tole you all about it! H-s-s-h! dat's somet'ing now I see, 

Dere he's comin' t'roo de bushes, 

So get down among de rushes. 

Hear heem walk! I t'ink, l)y tonder, 

He mus' go near fourteen bonder. 
Dat's de feller I been watchin' all de evening, I dunno. 

I'll geev' anoder call, jus' a leetle wan or two, 
Steady, Johnnie, steady — ^kip your head down low — 
W'en he see dere's no wan waitin' I wonder w'at he'll do? 

But look out for here he's comin'; 

Sa-pris-ti! ma heart is dnunmin'! 

You can never get heem nearer 

An' de moon is shinin' clearer, 
W'at a fine shot you'll be havin'! now, Johnnie, let her go! 

Bang! bang! you got heem sure! an' he'll never run away 

Nor feed among de lily on de shore of Wessonneau. 

So dat's your first moose, Johnnie! wall! remember all I say — 

Doesn't matter w'at you're chasin'. 

Doesn't matter w'at you're facin', 

Only watch de t'ing you're doin'; 

If you don't, ba gosh! you're ruin! 
An' steady, Johnnie, steady— kip your head down low. 



WILLIAM HENRY DRUMMOND 593 

Dreams 

Bord k Plouffe, Bord a Plouffe, 
Wat do I see w'en I dream of you? 
A shore w'ere de water is racin' by, 
A small boy looking an' wonderin* w'y 
He can't get fedder for goin' fly 
Lak de hawk makin* ring on de summer sky 
Dat's w'at I see. 

Bord a Plouffe, Bord a Plouffe, 
W'at do I hear w'en I dream of you? 
Too many t'ing for sleepin' well! 
De song of de ole tam cariole bell, 
De voice of dat girl from Sainte Angele, 
(I geev' her a ring was mark "fiddle") 
Dat's w'at I hear. 

Bord a Plouffe, Bord k Plouffe, 
Wat do I smoke w'en I dream of you? 
Havana cigar from across de sea, 
An' get dem for not'ing too? No, sireel 
Dere's only wan kin' of tabac for me. 
An' it grow on de Riviere des Prairies — 
Dat's w'at I smoke. 

Bord a Plouffe, Bord a Plouffe, 
How do I feel w'en I t'ink of you? 
Sick, sick for de ole place way back dere — 
An' to sleep on ma own leetle room upstair 
Were de ghos' on de chimley mak' me scare, 
I'd geev more monee dan I can spare — 
Dat's how I feel. 

Bord k Plouffe, Bord a Plouffe, 
W'at will I do w'en I'm back wit' you? 
I'll buy de farm of Bonhomme Martel, 
Long tam he's been waitin' a chance to sell. 
Den pass de nex' morning on Sainte AngMe, 
An' if she's not marry — dat girl — ^very well, 
Dat's w'at I'll do. 



594 THE ENGLISH POETS 



ARCHIBALD LAMPMAN 

[Born at Morpeth, Canada, 1861; died at Ottawa, 1899. He became 
a clerk in the Civil Service. He published two volumes of verse, Among 
the Millet and Lyrics of Earth, and was preparing a third voliune, Alcyone, 
for the press at the time of his death. His collected poems were pub- 
lished in 1900 with a memoir by Mr. Duncan Campbell Scott.] 

A new manner and a new temper of thought came into Canadian 
literature shortly after 1880, and Mr. Roberts and Mr. Carman, 
Mr. Wilfred Campbell, Mr. D. C. Scott, and Archibald Lampman, 
are the poetic voices of our renaissance. Each was soon to develop 
his own peculiar vein, but they all shared a kindred enthusiasm 
for nature, Mr. Roberts and Mr. Carman reproducing the atmos- 
phere of the Eastern sea-board, Mr. Campbell writing vigorous 
Ijrrics of the Great Lakes region, and Mr. Scott and Lampman 
taking as their province the beautiful country that lies about 
Ottawa, where cultivation merges so rapidly into the untamed 
beauty of the Laurentian hills that bound the near horizon. 

Of this group Lampman has subordinated himself most com- 
pletely to the influences which flow from nature, and he takes 
rank as the finest of our descriptive poets. He cannot be said to 
have any systematic philosophy of nature, unless it be that to 
yield oneself completely to her sway is to master the secret of un- 
selfish and noble living. It is not exciting poetry, and it is probable 
that the more dramatic methods and the more fluid technique of 
our present-day writers have made us careless of his quieter per- 
fection. But Lampman's work has solid virtues that will keep it 
alive long after the collapse of many an ultra-modernist reputation, 
and among Canadian poets at least he will remain a classic. 



Heat 

From plains that reel to southward, dim, 
The road nms by me white and bare; 

Up the steep hill it seems to swim 
Beyond, and melt into the glare. 



ARCHIBALD LAMPMAN 595 

Upward half-way, or it may be 

Nearer the summit, slowly steals 
A hay-cart, moving dustily 

With idly clacking wheels. 

By his cart's side the wagonei 

Is slouching slowly at his ease. 
Half-hidden in the windless blur 

Of white dust puffing to his knees. 
This waggon on the height above, 

From sky to sky on either hand, 
Is the sole thing that seems to move 

In all the heat-held land. 

Beyond me in the fields the sim 

Soaks in the grass and hath his will; 
I count the marguerites one by one; 

Even the buttercups are still. 
On the brook yonder not a breath 

Disturbs the spider or the midge. 
The water-bugs draw close beneath 

The cool gloom of the bridge. 

Where the far elm-tree shadows flood 

Dark patches in the burning grass, 
The cows, each with her peaceful cud. 

Lie waiting for the heat to pass. 
From somewhere on the slope near by 

Into the pale depth of the noon 
A wandering thrush slides leisurely 

His thin revolving time. 

In intervals of dreams I hear 

The cricket from the droughty ^ound; 
The grasshoppers spin into mine ear 

A small innumerable sound. 
I lift mine eyes sometimes to gaze: 

The burning sky-line blinds my sight: 
The woods far off are blue with haze: 

The hills are drenched in light. 



596 THE ENGUSH POETS 

And yet to me not this or that 

Is always sharp or always sweet; 
In the sloped shadow of my hat 

I lean at rest, and drain the heat; 
Nay more, I think some blessed power 

Hath broxight me wandering idly here: 
In the full furnace of this hour 

My thoughts grow keen and clear. 



Outlook 

Not to be conquered by these headlong days. 
But to stand free: to keep the mind at brood 
On life's deep meaning, nature's altitude 

Of loveliness, and time's mysterious ways; 

At every thought and deed to clear the haze 
Out of our eyes, considering only this, 
What man, what life, what love, what beauty is, 

This is to live, and win the final praise. 

Though strife, ill fortune, and harsh human need 
Beat down the soul, at moments blind and dumb 
With agony; yet, patience — there shall come 
Many great voices from life's outer sea. 

Hours of strange triimiph, and, when few men heed, 
Murmurs and glimpses of eternity. 



The Woodcutter's Hut 

Far up in the wild and wintry hills in the heart of the cliff-broken 
woods, 

Where the moimded drifts lie soft and deep in the noiseless soli- 
tudes. 

The hut of the lonely woodcutter stands, a few rough beams that 
show 

A blunted peak and a low black line, from the glittering waste of 
snow. 

In the frost-still dawn from his roof goes up in the windless, 
motionless air, 



ARCHIBALD LAMPMAN 597 

The thin, pmk curl of leisurely smoke; through the forest white 

and bare 
The woodcutter follows his narrow trail, and the morning rings 

and cracks 
With the rhjrthmic jet of his sharp-blown breath and the echoing 

shout of his axe. 
Only the waft of the wind besides, or the stir of some hardy 

bird— 
The call of the friendly chickadee, or the pat of the nut-hatch — 

is heard; 
Or a rustle comes from a dusky clump, where the busy siskins 

feed. 
And scatter the dimpled sheet of the snow with the shells of the 

cedar-seed. 
Day after day the woodcutter toils untiring with axe and wedge. 
Till the jingling teams come up from the road that runs by the 

valley's edge. 
With plunging of horses, and hurling of snow, and many a shouted 

word, 
And carry away the keen-scented fruit of his cutting, cord upon 

cord. 
Not the soimd of a living foot comes else, not a moving visitant 

there. 
Save the delicate step of some halting doe, or the sniff of a prowling 

bear. 
And only the stars are above him at night, and the trees that 

creak and groan, 
And the frozen, hard-swept mountain-crests with their silent 

fronts of stone. 
As he watches the sinking glow of his fire and the wavering flames 

upcaught. 
Cleaning his rifle or mending his moccasins, sleepy and slow of 

thought. 
Or when the fierce snow comes, with the rising wind, from the 

grey north-east. 
He Ues through the leaguering hours in his bimk like a winter- 
hidden beast, 
Or sits on the hard-packed earth, and smokes by his draught- 
blown guttering fire. 
Without thought or remembrance, hardly awake, and waits for 

the storm to tire. 



598 THE ENGLISH POETS 

Scarcely he hears from the rock-rimmed heights to the wild ra- 
vines below, 

Near and far oflf, the limitless wings of tempest hurl and go 

In roaring gusts that plunge through the cracking forest, and lull, 
and lift, 

All day without stint and all night long with the sweep of the 
hissing drift. 

But winter shall pass ere long with its hills of snow and its fettered 
dreams. 

And the forest shall glimmer with living gold, and chime with the 
gushing of streams; 

Millions of little points of plants shall prick through its matted 
floor, 

And the wind-flower lift and imcurl her silken buds by the wood- 
man's door; 

The sparrow shall see and exult; but lo! as the spring draws gaily 
on. 

The woodcutter's hut is empty and bare, and the master that 
made it is gone. 

He is gone where the gathering of valley men another labour 
jdelds. 

To handle the plough and the harrow, and scythe, in the heat of 
the summer fields. 

He is gone with his corded arms, and his ruddy face, and his 
moccasined feet. 

The animal man in his warmth and vigour, sound, and hard and 
complete. 

And all summer long, round the lonely hut, the black earth bur- 
geons and breeds. 

Till the spaces are filled with the tall-plumed ferns and the tri- 
umphing forest-weeds; 

The thick wild raspberries hem its walls, and stretching on either 
hand, 

The red-ribbed stems and the giant leaves of the sovereign spike- 
nard stand. 

So lonely and silent it is, so withered and warped with the sun 
and snow, 

You would think it the fruit of some dead man's toil a hundred 
years ago; 

And he who finds it suddenly there, as he wanders far and 
alone. 



ARCHIBALD LAMPMAN . 599 

Is touched with a sweet and beautiful sense of something tender 

and gone, 
The sense of a struggling life in the waste, and the mark of a 

soul's command, 
The going and coming of vanished feet, the touch of a human 

hand. 

Temagami 

Far in the grim North-west beyond the lines 

That turn the rivers eastward to the sea, 

Set with a thousand islands, crowned with pines, 

Lies the deep water, wild Temagami: 

Wild for the himter's roving, and the use 

Of trappers in its dark and trackless vales, 

Wild with the trampling of the giant moose, 

And the weird magic of old Indian tales. 

All day with steady paddles toward the west 

Our heavy-laden long canoe we pressed: 

All day we saw the thunder-travelled sky 

Purpled with storm in many a trailing tress. 

And saw at eve the broken sunset die 

In crimson on the silent wilderness. 



Wayagamack 

Beautiful are thy hills, Wayagamack, 

Thy depths of lonely rock, thine endless piles 

Of grim birch forest and thy spruce-dark isles. 

Thy waters fathomless and pure and black. 

But golden where the gravel meets the sun, 

And beautiful thy twilight soHtude, 

The gloom that gathers over lake and wood 

A weirder silence when the day is done. 

For ever wild, too savage for the plough. 

Thine austere beauty thou canst never lose. 

Change shall not mar thy loneliness, nor tide 

Of human trespass trouble thy repose. 

The Indian's paddle and the himter's stride 

Shall jar thy dream, and break thy peace enow. 



6oo THE ENGLISH POETS 

HAROLD VERSCHOYLE WRONG 

[Born 1891, at Toronto. Killed in action at Thiepval, July i, 191 6] 

Death 

I felt the clouds and all around me mist; 

Behind, the twilight; a great flame, before, 

That pierced the thickspim texture of the clouds; 

Behind, it cleared, the mist was all before. 

I stood upon a pinnacle that rose 

High in the air, and yet there was no height. 

But all the world lay near within my grasp. 

Light was my soul and my feet urged me on, 

On through the grey that cloaked the distant flame; 

I paused and looked, then forward turned once more, 

And forward strode into the foaming cloud. 

And as I went the flame grew bright and wide, 

And all was brilliant with that blazing light 

Which dazzled me and filled my eyes with red, 

Till I was blinded and fell fainting down. 

Then cleared the clouds and there was no more mist. 

The Great Adventure 

The travel birds which journey in the spring 

Lust after pleasures of awakened sight; 

They rout the weather in a truceless fight. 
And swell their souls with joy of buffeting 
And constant strife. To know the imknown thing, 

To see the unseeable in God's despite, 

To try his strength against another's might, 
This set Ulysses to his wandering. 
And this we still desire, we, who Kve 

Clamped to the dulness of an ordered roimd; 
'Tis ours to take the best the world can give. 

And if the taking slay us on the way 
What loss is that? We too were outward bound 

Beyond the narrow shelter of the bay. 



ERNEST DOWSON 

[Ernest Christopher Dowson, bom August 2, 1867^ lived the 
earlier part of his life abroad. He was educated at Queen's College, 
Oxford, which he left in 1887 without taking a degree. Thenceforward 
he lived partly in London, partly in Paris, returning finally to London 
only to die, February 23, 1900. He did a number of translations from 
the French, hack-work for which he received a regular pittance, and was 
part author of two novels. In verse he published Verses (1896), The 
Pierrot of the Minute (1897), while Decorations appeared posthumously, 
published by John Lane.] 

History affords us only too many examples of the poets whom 
life and its dirunal miseries have overwhelmed. Out of this pitiful 
company, some, Hke Chatterton and de Nerval, foimd in suicide 
their only road of escape. Others needed not to go "ridiculement 
se pendre au r^verbere": to these, in its own time, came early 
death, putting a period to all their wretchedness. Ernest Dowson 
is numbered among these. For him rftality m eant poverty^ nd 
disease. Conquered by life, he was yet in a sense its conqueror; 
Tor out of his life's ugliness and pain he created beauty. The cry 
that his agony extorted from him was an articulate music, always 
melancholy and pathetic, and possessing sometimes a plaintive 
loveliness all its own. 

His poet ry is alwa3rs essentially lyrical and personal. He general- 
izecbbo world-philosophy out of his experiences. Because life 
wearied him he did not, like Byron or Leopardi, postulate a 
imiversal ennui, did not rise in titanic curses against the Creator of 
a world where b'fe was only supportable by illusions. Dowson did 
not see in his own misfortimes the Promethean symbol of perse- 
cuted but indomitable humanity. His poetry is the poetry of res- 
ignation, not of rebellion. He suffers, and records the fact. That 
is enough; he draws no universal conclusions, he does not rail on 
fate; he is content to suffer and be sad. 

Weariness and resignation — ^these are his themes; weariness of 
life and a great desire for the "quiet consiunmation" of death, the 
annihilator; • resignation, helpless and hopeless, to the fate that 



6o2 THE ENGLISH POETS 

persecutes him. This constitutes his stock of poetical material. 
He sings the same song over and over, a thin, lamenting melody. 

With no great desire to achieve originality, he made imashamed 
use of all the time-honoured poetical paraphernalia — ^lute and viol, 
poppy and rose and lily, with all those rare, remote precious things 
which the poets throughout the ages have appropriated to their 
peculiar use. He did not trouble himself to seek out a new diction, 
to invent new moulds of expression in which to cast his thought. 
The old conventional language of poetry, a language consciously 
archaic and aloof from the living speech of men, satisfied him 
completely. In his language he never passes the traditional boimds 
of nineteenth-century Elizabethanism. 

What is it, then, which makes Dowson a poet? We have seen 
how limited was his stock of ideas, how famihar his images and 
diction. What is the quality in his work which raises.it above 
flat mediocrity and makes it readable? Wherein does his magic 
consist? The answer to these questions is surely to be found in 
that quality of musical beauty which is characteristic of all his 
work. 

Each poet has his musical beauty, each period is distinguished by 
its own harmony. To wed the musical form with the content of 
meaning so that the music expresses the thought in the purely 
sensuous symbols of its harmony — that is the achievement of the 
true poet. A great poet can tune his music to every mode. 

Dowson, with his very limited poetical genius, knew of only 
one kind of music, the music of sadness. The rh5rthm of his lines 
is always slow and passionless. No harshness of abrupt energy 
breaks their melancholy sweetness, no eagerness quickens the 
weariness of their march. To heighten the effect of his music he 
makes frequent use of the refrain. Every reader of poetry knows 
how absurd or how deeply impressive this serial return to the 
same point may be. Dowson's use of the device is for the most 
part happy: "I have been faithful to you, Cynara! in my fash- 
ion." "Sxifficient for the day are the day's evil things" are haimt- 
ing lines, whose return, stanza by stanza, produces a cumulative 
effect upon the mind, like the insistent moan of Dunbar's "Timor 
Mortis conturbat me." Musical arrangements more elaborate 
than the simple periodical refrain are often used in Dowson's 
works. He has written several villanelles, of which one is quoted 
in this place. Well handled, the form is capable of being of 
great beauty. "A little, passionately, not at all!"— he evokes 



ERNEST DOWSON 603 



here a drooping, evanescent music, a "dying fall" of poetry. In- 
deed, all Dowson's poetry possesses this quality of a music wearily 
drooping towards its dose, trembling on the verge of silence. He 
reproduces the negative emotions of spent passion, the feelings of 
quiet sadness evoked by a song that draws to an end — ^a great 
period of human activity that closes. It is not for us to complain 
that he did not achieve more, as much as the great poets. Rather, 
we must be thankful for the contribution of beauty which he has 
brought to the general treasury — ^however small that contribution 
may be. 

Aldous Huxley. 



Nuns of the Perpetual Adoration ^ 

Calm, sad, secure; behind high convent walls, 
These watch the sacred lamp, these watch and pray: 

And it is one with them when evening falls, 
And one with them the cold return of day. 

These heed not time; their nights and days they make 

Into a long returning rosary, 
Whereon their lives are threaded for Christ's sake; 

Meekness and vigilance and chastity. 

A vowed patrol, in silent companies, 
Life-long they keep before the living Christ. 

In that dim church, their prayers and penances 
Are fragrant incense to the Sacrificed. 

Outside, the world is wide and passionate; 

Man's weary laughter and his sick despair 
Entreat at their impenetrable gate; 

They heed no voices in their dream of prayer. 

They saw the glory of the world displayed; 

They saw the bitter of it, and the sweet; 
They knew the roses of the world should fade. 

And be trod under by the hurrying feet. 

* These selections from Ernest Dowson's poetry are reprinted by permission of the pub- 
lishers, John Lane Company. 



604 THE ENGUSH POETS 

Therefore they rather put away desire, 
And crossed their hands and came to sanctuary, 

And veiled their heads and put on coarse attire; 
Because their comeliness was vanity. 

And there they rest; they have serene insight 

Of the illuminating dawn to be; 
Mary's sweet Star dispels for them the night, 

The proper darkness of humanity. 

Calm and secure; with faces worn and mild; 

Surely their choice of vigil is the best? 
Yea I for our roses fade, the world is wild; 

But there, besides the altar, there, is rest. 

"NON SUM QUALIS ERAM BON^ SUB REGNO CyNAIUE " 

Last night, ah, yesternight, betwixt her lips and mine 
There fell thy shadow, Cynaral thy breath was shed 
Upon my soul between the kisses and the wine; 
And I was desolate and sick of an old passion. 

Yea, I was desolate and bowed my head: 
I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! in my fashion. 

All night upon mine heart I felt her warm heart beat, 
Night-long within mine arms in love and. sleep she lay; 
Surely the kisses of her bought red mouth were sweet; 
But I was desolate and sick of an old passion, 

When I awoke and found the dawn was grey: 
I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! in my fashion. 

I have forgot much, Cynara! gone with the wind, 
Flung roses, roses, riotously with the throng, 
Dancing, to put thy pale, lost lilies out of mind; 
But I was desolate and sick of an old passion. 

Yea, all the time, because the dance was long: 
I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! in my fashion. 

I cried for madder music and for stronger wine, 
But when the feast is finished and the lamps expire, 
Then falls thy shadow, C3niara! the night is thine; 
And I am desolate and sick of an old passion. 

Yea, himgry for the lips of my desire: 
I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! in my fashion. 



ERNEST DGWSON 605 



Vain Hope 

Sometimes, to solace my sad heart, I say, 
Though late it be, though lily-time be past, 
Though all the summer skies be overcast, 

Haply I will go down to her, some day. 
And cast my rests of life before her feet, 

That she may have her will of me, being so sweet 
And none gainsay! 

So might she look on me with pitying eyes, 

And lay calm hands of healing on my head; 

^^ Because of thy long pains be comforted; 
For I, even /, am Love; sad soid, arise! " 

So, for her graciousness, I might at last 
Gaze on the very face of Love, and hold him fast 

In no disguise. 

Haply, I said, she will take pity on me, 

Though late I come, long after lily-time, 

With burden of waste days and drifted rh)mie: 
Her kind, calm eyes, down drooping maidenly. 

Shall change, grow soft: there is yet time, meseems, 
I said, for solace; though I know these things are dreams, 

And may not be! 



ViLLANELLE OF MARGUERITES 

"A little, passionately, not at all?^' 
She casts the snowy petals on the air; 
And what care we how many petals fall? 

Nay, wherefore seek the seasons to forestall? 
It is but playing, and she will not care, 
A little, passionately, not at all! 

She would not answer us if we should call 
Across the years; her visions are too fair; 
And what care we how many petals fall! 



6o6 THE ENGLISH POETS 

She knows us not, nor recks if she entHrall 
With voice and eyes and fashion of her hair, 
A little, passionately, not at all! 

Knee-deep she goes in meadow-grasses tall, 
Kissed by the daisies that her fingers tear; 
And what care we how many petals fall! 

We pass and go; but she shall not recall 
What men we were, nor all she made us bear; 
"A litUey passionately, not at alir* 
And what care we how many petals falll 



A Last Word 

Let us go hence: the night is now at hand; f- 

The day is overworn, the birds all flown; 

And we have reaped the crops the gods have sown; 
Despair and death's deep darkness o'er the land 
Broods like an owl; we cannot understand 

Laughter or tears, for we have only known 

Surpassing vanity; vain things alone 
Have driven our perverse and aimless band. 

Let us go hence, somewhither strange and cold. 
To Hollow Lands where just men and unjust 
Find end of labour, where's rest for the old. 

Freedom to all from love and fear and lust. 

Twine our torn hands! O pray the earth enfold . 

Our life-sick hearts and turn them into dust 



RICHARD MIDDLETON 

[Richard Middleton, bom 1889, died at Brussels in 191 1. His work, 
during his life, was published in various periodicals. Three volumes of 
prose, The Ghost Ship, Monologues, and The Day before Yesterday, con- 
taining essa3rs and short stories, were collected after his death. Two 
volumes of verse, Poems and Songs, first and second series, were also 
posthumously published in 191 2 and 1913, by Fisher Unwin.] 

The mind of a great poet is a mirror endowed with the power 
of collecting the diffused and broken light of experience and re- 
verberating it in one bright focal ray of consummated expression. 
Good poetry is always an account of facts, whether facts of the 
senses, or of thought and passion and imagination. It is not a 
collection of vague phrases and unbodied verbiage, but a signif- 
icant expression of truth. But there is also a kind of simulation 
poetry, which is an art of making phrases, of linking shadowy, 
inacciu-ate words into a melody. This rhetoric a gradus may 
teach; and by a man of talent it may be brought to a certain 
specious perfection, from which only time and the ravages of 
criticism will rub the dazzle and the gilt. At its best, the poetry 
of words may drug and intoxicate the senses. It can never hope 
to appeal to any higher faculty. 

The work of Richard Middleton belongs to both these cate- 
gories. Some of his writing may be classed with true poetry; 
some, and perhaps it is the greater part, with the sham variety. 
At his most inspired, he displays clarity of thought and sincere 
emotion, clothed in melody that is sweet, sometimes to over- 
ripeness. At his worst, he tnists to vaguely "poetical" words and 
a copious use of not too significant images to cover the defects in 
the substance of his poetry. His bad verse is like a piece of music, 
blurred into husky sweetness by some indifferent player who 
relies for his effects rather on the pedal than on a clean and skilful 
execution. The fine intricacies of truth, which a great poet la- 
bours exactly to express, are by Middleton too often confoimded 
and smudged into a rhetorical dimness, where outlines are lost 
in a welter of sensuous words. 

It is not hard to find examples of Middleton*s rhetorical vague- 
ness and exuberance. His poems abound in such phrases as 



6o8 THE ENGLISH POETS 

'^ stained by the wine of our old ecstasy," "moonlit lilies of the 
past," "domes of desire and secret halls of sin." They are pow- 
dered with "the dust of dreams," and on their smooth tide of 
harmony swims many a "dreamy ship," many an "argosy" 
freighted with no poetical treasure beyond its own sonorous name. 
The use of words without significant content, intoxicating substi- 
tutes for thought, has been the bane of almost every mental 
activity. Not least has poetry suflFered. Beautiful as, in its way, 
rhetoric may be, it is nevertheless a degraded form of poetry. 

Of the earth and of the fire, earthly and fiery, Middleton's best 
poems are the expression of a-Passionate paganism. This present 
world is enough for us, he says, and a man may satisfy his soul 
with the good things of it, kisses and wine and simlight. He bids 
us pluck the roses of the day, adding no philosophic caution as to 
the limitation of desires. In passion the extreme is the only mean, 
and, for him, the ideal life is one of continual passion, of unceasing 
and ecstatic enjoyment of the here and now. If the spirit has any 
thirst for the infinite, it must satisfy itself in the boundlessness of 
passion. He has not the vision of the mystic who looks through the 
beauties of this world into a divine beauty beyond them . To his eyes 
the things of the earth are opaque, solid, complete in themselves. 
They are divine, not as being symbols of some universal spirit, but 
because of the earth-bom divinity within themselves — tutelary 
nymph or little goat-foot genius of the place. P3,ssiiP> then, and 
the warm immediacy of paganism are the themes upon which Mid- 
dleton works. He gives them expression in a rich voluptuous form, 
that is apt, as we have seen, to decay to mere verbal luxuriance. 

The metrical skill displayed in all the poems is considerable, 
though the range of the musical effects at which Middleton aims 
is a narrow one. Smoothness and sweetness of numbers, melodies 
that will sing themselves as they run — these are the characteristics 
of Middleton*s verse. Many of the metrical devices adapted by 
the nineteenth century from Elizabethan usage are to be met 
with in his poems. Such balanced phrases of rhythm as, 

" For I have learnt too many things to live, 

And I have loved too many things to die," 

or as, '' ^ ' 

" And there is earth upon my eyes 
And earth upon my singing lips," 

illustrate the successful use of one of the most pleasing of these 
musical artifices. Aldous Huxley, 



RICHARD MIDDLETON 609 

The Carol of the Poor Children 

We are the poor children, come out to see the sights 
On this day of all days, on this night of nights; 
The stars in merry parties are dancing in the sky, 
A fine star, a new star, is shining on high! 

We are the poor children, our lips are frosty blue. 
We cannot sing our carol as well as rich folk do; 
Our bellies are so empty we have no singing voice, 
But this night of all nights good children must rejoice. 

We do rejoice, we do rejoice, as hard as we can try, 

A fine star, a new star is shining in the sky I 

And while we sing our carol, we think of the delight 

The happy kings and shepherds make in Bethlehem to-night. 

Are we naked, mother, and are we starving-poor — 

Oh, see what gifts the kings have brought outside the stable door; 

Are we cold, mother, the ass will give his hay 

To make the manger warm and keep the cruel winds away 

We are the poor children, but not so poor who sing 

Our carol with our voiceless hearts to greet the new-bom King, 

On this night of all nights, when in the frosty sky 

A new star, a kind star is shining on high! 



Any Lover, any Lass 

Why are her eyes so bright, so bright, 

Why do her lips control 
The kisses of a simuner night, 

When I would love her soul? 

God set her brave eyes wide apart 
And painted them with fire. 

They stir the ashes of my heart 
To embers of desire. 

Her lips so tenderly are wrought 

In so divine a shape, 
That I am servant to my thought 

And can nowise escape. 



6iO THE ENGLISH POETS 

Her body is a flower, her hair 
About her neck doth play; 

I find her colours everywhere, 
They are the pride of day. 

Her little hands are soft, and when 

I see her fingers move 
I know in very truth that men 

Have died for less than love. 

Ah, dear, live, lovely thing! my eyes 
Have sought her like a prayer; 

It is my better self that cries 
"Would she were not so fair!" 

Would I might forfeit ecstasy 
And find a calmer place, 

Where I might undesirous see 
Her too desir6d face. 

Nor feel her eyes so bright, so bright, 
Nor hear her lips unroll 

Dream after dream the lifelong night, 
When I would love her soul. 



Autumnal 

Across the scented garden of my dreams 
Where roses grew, Time passes like a thief. 

Among my trees his silver sickle gleams. 
The grass is stained with many a ruddy leaf; 

And on cold winds the petals float away 

That were the pride of June and her array. 

The bare boughs weave a net upon the sky 
To catch Love's wings and his fair body bruise; 

There are no flowers in the rosary — 
No song-birds in the mournful avenues; 

Though on the sodden air not lightly breaks 

The elegy of Youth, whom love forsakes. 



RICHARD MIDDLETON 6ll 

Ah, Time! one flower of all my garden spare, 

One rose of all the roses, that in this 
I may possess my love's perfumed hair 

And all the crimson secrets of her kiss. 
Grant me one rose that I may drink its wine, 
And from her lips win the last anod3nie. 

For I h ave learnt too many things to4ive, I 
And I have loved too many thingsji>-xiie;( 

But all my l»arren acres I would give 
For one red blossom of eternity, 

To animate the darkness and delight 

The spaces and the silences of night. 

But dreams are tender flowers that in their birth 

Are very near to death, and I shall reap. 
Who planted wonder, unavailing earth, 

Harsh thorns and miserable husks of sleep. 
I have had dreams, but have not conquered Time, 
And love shall vanish like an empty rhyme. 



Pagan Epitaph 

Servant of the eternal Must 

I lie here, here let me lie. 
In the ashes and the dust. 

Dreaming, dreaming pleasantly. 
When I lived I sought no wings. 

Schemed no heaven, planned no hell, 
But, content with little things. 

Made an earth, and it was well. 

Song and laughter, food and wine, 

Roses, roses red and white, 
And a star or two to shine 

On my dewy world at night. 
Lord, what more could I desire? 

With my little heart of clay 
I have lit no eternal fire 

To bum my dreams on Judgment Day! 



6l2 THE ENGLISH POETS 

Well I loved, but they who knew 
What my laughing heart could be, 

What my singing lips could do, 
Lie a-dreaming here with me. 

I can feel their finger-tips 

Stroke the darkness from my face, 
And the music of their lips 

Fills my pleasant resting-place 
In the ashes and the dust. 

Where I wonder as I lie. 
Servant of the eternal Must, 

Dreaming, dreaming pleasantly. 



MARY COLERIDGE 

[Masy Elizabeth Colesioge was born in London, September 23, 
1 86 1. Her grandfather was the son of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's elder 
brother James. Her first novel, The Seven Sleepers of Ephesus (1893), 
mystified most readers, though it attracted the notice of Stevenson. 
The King with Two Faces (1897) was far more successful. It was fol- 
lowed by a few other novels and a book of essa3rs. Maiy Coleridge 
published no poetry under her own name. Her first book of verse. 
Fancy s Fottcwing, "by Anodos," was printed by Mr. Daniel at his pri- 
vate press at Oxford in 1896; and Fancy's Guerdony mostly reprinted 
from this, was published the next year in Elkin Mathews's SkiUing 
Garland. A volume of collected poems was edited after her death by 
Henry Newbolt. She died in London, immarried, on August 25, 1907. 
Her friend Edith Sichel published a collection of her stories and essa3rs 
in 1910, with a short memoir.] 

No one was ever less of a professional poet than Mary Coleridge. 
She was writing verse for twenty-five years, but the greater part 
of her poems were never printed in her lifetime, and she refused to 
publish imder her own name. Yet assuredly her place is secure 
among the lyric poets of England. Perhaps just because they 
were produced with so little thought of the public, her poems have 
a fresh directness and intimacy which few lyrists attain so per- 
fectly. They were the spontaneous overflow of her spirit; and 
that spirit was one of rare gift and charm. The most obviously 
striking characteristic of Mary Coleridge's nature was the com- 
bination of imusual depth with unusual vivacity. She was quick 
to be moved, but it was not only the surface which was stirred, 
it was her whole being. She was as gay as she was serious; but the 
gaiety was not a mere disguise to the seriousness, the imaginative 
humour from which it sprang was a fundamental part of her 
nature and gave it the strength of elasticity. The bright efferves- 
cence of her intellect did not prevent her from being as enthusi- 
astic as she was warm-hearted. She was not less tender than 
high-spirited. And though her mind was nothing if not adven- 
turous, at the core of her being was an exquisite hiunility. 



6l4 THE ENGLISH POETS 

With all this complexity of nature she had a great sincerity. 
What she wrote in one mood might be contradicted by what she 
wrote in another; but the reader of her poems feels that each is 
sincere, that it is even a part of her rich sincerity to give spon- 
taneous utterance to those inconsistencies of thought and feeling 
which exist in all the most himian hearts and minds, though 
philosophers may believe it a duty to reconcile or gloze them. 

Mary Coleridge's poetry was so direct an expression of her 
nature that it could not fail to be original, in the truest sense of 
originality. Though her reading was wide, she does not follow 
any master or tradition. Among English poets there is hardly 
one to whom she shows any essential affinity, though in evocation 
of a magic atmosphere she shows herself the kinswoman of the 
author of Christdbd, Now and again we may be reminded of 
Browning at his most lyrical and direct; Mr. Bridges finds in some 
of her poems a likeness, both of matter and manner, to Blake; and 
it is certainly remarkable in such things as the song called Pros- 
perity, But the resemblance to Heine, which he also notes, may 
strike more readers. In what does this resemblance consist? For 
certainly the resemblance is not greater than the diflference. 
Heine's manner is often recalled by Mary Coleridge's use of sim- 
ple measures, her light touch, her bold and vivid fancy: 

"By a lake below the mountain 
Hangs the birch, as if in glee 
The lake had flung the moon a fountain. 
She had turned it to a tree." 

But also it is recalled by the fusion of an intellectual element 
in the poignant treatment of emotion; 

"The weapon that you fought with was a word. 
And with that word you stabbed me to the heart. 
Not once but twice you did it, for the sword 
Made no blood start. 

"They have not tried you for your life. You go 
Strong in such innocence as men will boast. 
They have not buried me. They do not know 
Life from its ghost." 

With a keen mind continually darting fresh light on the subjects 
of her thoughts and feelings, Mary Coleridge, like Heine, some- 



MARY COLERIDGE 615 



times turns upon herself, but in a diflFerent way. With Heine it 
seems to be the sudden recognition of an over-indulgence in 
sentiment, which the other side of him turns upon and mocks. 
With Mary Coleridge it seems to be a sudden apprehension that 
some emotion she has expressed may not have been absolutely 
true to herself after all, and she seeks yet more exactingly to strip 
all disguise from the reality within. This is especially seen in some 
poems of religious inspiration, and these are the farthest removed 
from likeness to Heine's spirit. Heine was easily bitter: Mary 
Coleridge could never have been made bitter, any more than she 
could have become sentimental, though she was capable of pro- 
found grief. Her spirituality of nature was too radiant and alive 
for either weakness. In that she was akin to Blake. 

No one would suggest that Mary Coleridge's actual production 
could be compared to Heine's in power or range; but it is a tribute 
to her originality and lyric art that the best of her poems bear 
comparison with the work of so renowned a master. 

Some of the most successful of the poems are impersonal or 
" dramatic " in Browning's sense. They have a romantic strange- 
ness for their beauty, and are concerned with mysterious themes or 
actual wizardry. The situation is suggested rather than defined; 
and the reader is left baffled in his curiosity yet content with an 
enigmatic effect, so powerful is the impression of magical atmos- 
phere. Instead of telling a complete story, the poetess prefers to 
show a glimpse of figures in passionate action, as if seen in a 
momentary beam of intense light against darkness; and the verse 
in such pieces has a kind of gay vehemence that is very charac- 
teristic of her genius. There was indeed in the movements of her 
mind, as her verse reflects them, something of the caprice of a 
bird's motion and a bird's singing; and, though the inconsequence 
is partly a weakness, it certainly belongs to her charm. 

The little volume that contains all of Mary Coleridge's poetical 
production is remarkable for lyric variety, but not less for the 
impression it gives of an impassioned unity beneath. The poems 
remain, in Mr. Bridges' words, as " an absolutely truthful picture 
of a wondrously beautiful and gifted spirit;" and this, beyond all 
other qualities that they possess, is the main secret of their some- 
times mysterious attraction. 

Laurence Binyon. 



6l6 THE ENGUSH POETS 



Sonnet 

" To thine own self he true; 
And it must folloWj as the night the day, 
Thou canst not then be false to any man*- 

Tnie to myself am I, and false to all. 

Fear, sorrow, love, constrain us tiU we die. 

But when the lips betray the spirit's cry, 

The will, that should be sovereign, is a thrall. 

Therefore let terror slay me, ere I call 

For aid of men. Let grief begrudge a sigh. 

"Are you afraid? "—"unhappy?" "No!" The He 

About the shrinking truth stands like a wall. 

"And have you loved?" "No, never." All the while. 

The heart within my flesh is turned to stone. 

Yea, none the less that I accoimt it vile, 

The heart within my heart makes speechless moan, 

And when they see one face, one face alone. 

The stem eyes of the soul are moved to smile. 



Our Lady 

Mother of God! no lady thou: 
Common woman of common earth! 
Our Lady ladies call thee now. 
But Christ was never of gentle birth; 
A common man of the common earth. 

For God's ways are not as our ways. 

The noblest lady in the land 

Would have given up half her days, 

Would have cut off her right hand. 

To bear the Child that was God of the land. 

Never a lady did he choose, 

Only a maid of low degree. 

So humble she might not refuse 

The carpenter of Galilee. 

A daughter of the people, she. 



MARY COLERIDGE 617 



Out she sang the song of her heart. 
Never a lady so had sung. 
She knew no letters, had no art; 
To all mankind, in woman's tongue, 
Hath Israelitish Mary sung. 

And still for men to come she sings. 
Nor shall her singing pass away. 
He hath filled the hungry with good things- 
Oh, listen, lords and ladies gay! — 
And the rich he hath sent empty away. 



Unwelcome 

We were yoimg, we were nierry, we were very very wise, 

And the door stood open at our feast. 
When there passed us a woman with the West in her eyes 

And a man with his back to the East. 

O, still grew the hearts that were beating so fast. 

The loudest voice was still. 
The jest died away on our lips as they passed, 

And the rays of July struck chill. 

The cups of red wine turned pale on the board. 

The white bread black as soot. 
The hound forgot the hand of her lord, 

She fell down at his foot. 

Low let me lie where the dead dog lies. 

Ere I sit me down again at a feast. 
When there passes a woman with the West in her eyes 

And a man with his back to the East. 



6l8 THE ENGLISH POETS 



Jealousy 

"The myrtle bush grew shady 

Down by the ford." — 
"Is it even so?" said my lady, 

"Even so!" said my lord. 
"The leaves are set too thick together 

For the point of a sword." 

"The arras in your room hangs close, 

No light between! 
You wedded one of those 

That see unseen." — 
"Is it even so?" said the King's Majesty. 

"Even so!" said the Queen. 



A Moment 

The clouds had made a crimson crown 

About the mountains high. 
The stormy sun was going down 

In a stormy sky. 

Why did you let your eyes so rest on me, 
And hold your breath between? 

In all the ages this can never be 
As if it had not been. 



L'OiSEAu Bleu 

The lake lay blue below the hDl. 

O'er it, as I looked, there flew 
Across the waters, cold and still, 

A bird whose wings were palest Hue. 

The sky above was blue at last. 
The sky beneath me blue in blue. 

A moment, ere the bird had passed 
It caught his image as he flew. 



MARY COLERIDGE 619 



Shadow 

Child of my love! though thou be bright as day, 
Though all the sons of joy laugh and adore thee, 

Thou canst not throw thy shadow self away. 
Where thou dost come, the earth is darker for thee. 

When thou dost pass, a flower that saw the sun 

Sees him no longer. 
The hosts of darkness are, thou radiant one, 

Through thee made stronger. 



The Shield 

I have forged me in sevenfold heats 
A shield from foes and lovers. 

And no one knows the heart that beats 
Beneath the shield that covers. 



A Mother to her Baby 

Where were you, Baby? 

Where were you, dear? 
Even I have known you 

Only a year. 

You were bom. Baby, 
When I was born. 

Twelve months ago you 
Left me forlorn. 

Why did you leave me, 
Heart of my heart? 

Then I was all of you, 
Now you are part. 



620 THE ENGLISH POETS 

You lived while I lived, 
We two were one. 

We two are two now 
While the days run. 

Every maid bom, love, 
Womanly, mild. 

Is in herself, love. 
Mother and child. 



Christ's Friends 

Before Thine Altar on my bended knees 
When I remember those Thy friends that lie 
Helpless and hopeless, sunk in misery, 
O Christ, I love Thee, but I love not these. 

Without them I may never hope to please 
That friend of theirs who had no word to say 
When from his side the rich man turned away. 
O Christ, Thou lov'st not me. Thou lovest diese. 



Friends — with a Difference 

O, one I need to love me. 
And one to xmderstand. 

And one to soar above me. 
And one to clasp my hand. 

And one to make me slumber, 
And one to bid me strive, 

But seven's the sacred number 
That keeps the soul alive. 

And first and last of seven, 
And all the world and more, 

Is she I need in Heaven 
And may not need before. 



MARY COLERIDGE 621 



"Whether I Live " 

Whether I live, or whether I die, 
Whatever the worlds I see, 

I shall come to you by and by, 
And you will come to me. 

Whoever was foolish, we were wise, 
We crossed the boundary h'ne. 

I saw my soul look out of your eyes, 
You saw your soul in mine. 



LIONEL JOHNSON 

[Lionel Pigot Johnson was bom at Broadstairs, March 15, 1867. 
He was a scholar of Winchester College and afterwards of New College, 
Oxford. In 1890 he settled in London, and wrote much criticism. His 
first prose book, The Art of Thomas Hardy y was published in 1894. Two 
books of poems appeared in his lifetime: Poems, 1895; and Ireland, 1897. 
In 1 89 1 he was received into the Church of Rome. In later years an 
enthusiastic interest in Ireland absorbed him more and more. He visited 
Ireland but never travelled outside the British Isles. He was small and 
frail in physique. At the end of September, 1902, he had a fall in Fleet 
Street which broke his skull, and he died on October 4, in St Barthol- 
omew's Hospital. Three different selections from his poetry appeared 
in 1904, 1908, and 1916, and his Poetical Works were published in 1915 
by Elkin Mathews.] 

One might say that scholarship was the abiding passion of 
Lionel Johnson's life; but scholarship interpreted in a gracious 
and a genial sense, imaginative scholarship, the devotion to 
"humane letters," not learning pursued merely for learning's 
sake. "Dear hiunan books," he writes in one of his poems. His 
books and friends were his most prized possessions; and the books 
because they were friends. Though he was anything but a typical 
English schoolboy, no one has celebrated so ardently and abun- 
dantly as Johnson his love for his school and his college. Win- 
chester and Oxford, homes of learning, homes of immemorial 
tradition, with their ancient beauty of buildings and gardens, yet 
in their atmosphere renewed continually by the companionship of 
youth; these venerable places inspired some of his happiest verse. 
He loved the landscape in which they are set, both for its own 
sake and still more for its associations. When he came to live in 
London it was the yet richer and more august traditions of its 
streets which made them, too, enchanted ground. Yet he was no 
mere dweller in the past who averts his face from the present. He 
relished his own day and all its interests. He was a humanist, 
like Pater, who, with Arnold and with Newman, deeply influenced 
him; and human history was to him a kind of immense cathedral. 



LIONEL JOHNSON 623 



the shrine of heroes, saints, and poets, in which one could wander 
still and Hsten to the music of the immortals. 

With such a temperament, it was natural that Johnson should 
be drawn to Catholicism. His love of comely order, his intense 
attachment to tradition, no less than deeper instincts of his nature, 
were satisfied in the Church of Rome; His finest poems are re- 
ligious, or have a religious tinge. He uses language as a kind of 
ritual. He wrote ecclesiastical Latin poems admirably and with 
ease. No English poet indeed belongs more closely than Johnson 
to the Latin tradition. He wished to be, and even persuaded him- 
self that he was, Irish; he loved Celtic things; but his verse echoes 
Virgil's wistfulness rather than the immaterial melancholy of the 
Celt. True child of Oxford, he was drawn to lost causes. His 
best known poem celebrates Charles I. Yet it is characteristic of 
Johnson's wide imaginative sympathies that he could write of 
Cromwell hardly less finely, in the poem which begins — 

"Now on his last of ways 
The great September star 
That crowned him on the days 
Of Worcester and Dunbar, 
Shines through the menacing night afar." 

Johnson used a considerable variety of metres, but was happiest 
in the more formal tj^es. He was fond of writing sonnets in 
Alexandrines, and made a pensive languid beauty of his own out 
of this unusual form. But many of his best pieces are in short 
measures, like the Charles I. The astringent brevity of these 
strengthened his style: for with all his nicety and exactness, he 
was sometimes seduced by a love of language for its own sake, a 
love of beautiful and sonorous words, so that the diction seems 
like a rich, stiff vestment over the thought rather than moulded 
closely on its form. He had a weakness for words like magnificalj 
perdurable, roseal; epithets that a younger school would recoil 
from, in virtuous horror of "literary" language. Johnson, moved 
by no such feeling, preferred consecrated words, rich in associa- 
tions of the past. He was inclined to write too much, and not 
always with quite adequate motive. But if he failed of true Latin 
terseness, he was never rhetorical in the sense of being merely 
soimding or insincere. Most of his verse, it must be remembered, 
was written when he was a very young man; in his later poems, 
such as the memorial lines on Walter Pater written just before 



624 THE ENGLISH POETS 

his own death, the note of a deeper emotional experience is heard, 
and the poetry gains thereby. In the best of his poems there is a 
mingling of austerity and omateness, of ardour and discipline, 
which gives them a peculiar distinction. And at the core of them 
is a spiritual fire burning clearest in that poem (omitted from our 
selection for lack or room) which ends with the cry: 

'* Do what thou wilt, thou shalt not so. 
Dark Angel! triumph over me: 
Lonely, unto the Lone I go; 
Divine, to the Divinity ^ 

Laurence Binyon. 

By the Statue of King Charles at Charing Cross 

Sombre and rich, the skies; 
Great glooms, and starry plains. 
Gently the night wind sighs; 
Else a vast silence reigns. 

The splendid silence clings 
Around me; and around 
The saddest of all kings 
Crowned, and again discrowned. 

Comely and calm, he rides 
Hard by his own Whitehall: 
Only the night wind glides: 
No crowds, nor rebels, brawl. 

Gone too, his Court; and yet. 
The stars his courtiers are: 
Stars in their stations set; 
And every wandering star. 

Alone he rides, alone. 
The fair and fatal king: 
Dark night is all his own. 
That strange and solemn thing. 

Which are more full of fate: 
The stars; or those sad eyes? 
Which are more still and great: 
Those brows; or the skies? 



LIONEL JOHNSON 625 



Although his whole heart yearn 
In passionate tragedy: 
Never was face so stem 
With sweet austerity. 

Vanquished in life, his death 
By beauty made amends: 
The passing of his breath 
Won his defeated ends. 

Brief life, and hapless? Nay: 
Through death, life grew sublime. 
Speak after sentence? Yea; 
And to the end of time. 

Armoured he rides, his head 
Bare to the stars of doom: 
He triumphs now, the dead, 
Beholding London's gloom. 

Our wearier spirit faints, 
Vexed in the world's employ: 
His soul was of the saints; 
And art to him was joy. 

King, tried in fires of woe! 
Men hunger for thy grace: 
And through the night I go, 
Loving thy mournful face. 

Yet, when the city sleeps; 
When all the cries are still: 
The stars and heavenly deeps 
Work out a perfect will. 



The Church of a Dream 

Sadly the dead leaves rustle in the whistling wind. 
Around the weather-worn, gray church, low down the vale: 
The Saints in glorious vesture shake before the gale; 
The glorious windows shake, where still they dwell enshrined; 



626 THE ENGLISH POETS 

Old Saints by long dead, shrivelled hands long since designed: 
There still, although the world autumnal be, and pale. 
Still in thin golden vesture the old Saints prevail; 
Alone with Christ, desolate else, left by mankind. 

Only one ancient Priest offers the Sacrifice, 
Murmuring holy Latin immemorial: 
Swajdng with tremulous hands the old censer full of spice, 
In gray, sweet incense clouds; blue, sweet clouds mystical: 
To him, in place of men, for he is old, suffice 
Melancholy remembrances and vesperal. 



The End 

I gave you more than love: many times more: 
I gave mine honour into your fair keeping. 
You lost mine honour: wherefore now restore 
The love I gave; not dead, but cold and sleeping. 
You loveless, I dishonoured, go our ways: 
Dead is the past: dead must be all my days. 

Death and the shadows tarry not: fulfil 

Your years with folly and love's imitation. 

You had mine all: mine only now, to kill 

All trembling memories of mine adoration. 

That d